The Ultimate List Of Singapore Books And Authors You Need To Read To Know Singapore Better

11 July 2016

Singapore Literature exists. 

Looking for new books to read? Make your next selection from some of  the best writers on the island. Here’s how you can get acquainted with the Lion City through printed words and literary fiction.

 

Authors

Catherine Lim

If you want to know more about traditional Chinese culture within the Singapore society, Catherine Lim‘s books may shed some insights. Her novella A Leap of Love was made into a movie titled “The Leap Years” in 2008. 

Recommended reads: The Bondmaid, Following the Wrong God Home, and Or Else, the Lightning God and Other Stories 

 

Alfian Sa’at 

Award-winning playwright and poet Alfian Sa’at is also an accomplished fiction writer and his work has been translated into German, Swedish, Danish and Japanese. We love how he portrays accurate and relatable anecdotes on life as an ethnic minority in Singapore in his work. 


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Recommended reads: Malay Sketches, Corridor 

 

Robert Yeo 

On top of producing four poetry collections, six plays, and a libretto, Robert Yeo’s fiction work documents the social currents and events that left an impact on Singapore. 

Recommended reads: Adventures of Holden Heng 

 

Philip Jeyaretnam

Lawyer and writer Philip Jeyaretnam’s novels and short stories are about Singaporeans and explore issues concerning nation-building. He is also the chairman of the Singapore Writers Festival‘s steering committee. 

Recommended reads: Raffles Place RagtimeFirst Loves

 

Suchen Christine Lim

When the annual Singapore Literature Prize was launched in 1992, the first award went to Suchen Christine Lim for Fistful Of Colours. The novel touches on Singapore’s multi-ethnic tapestry told through family histories. 

Recommended reads: Fistful Of Colours,  Ricebowl, The River’s Song

 

Neil Humphreys

While he’s better known for his comedic and entertaining take on Singapore starting with Notes From an Even Smaller Island, Neil Humphreys also writes engaging fiction and his novels are, naturally, set in Singapore. 

Recommended reads: Match Fixer, Marina Bay Sins

 

Anthologies

One of the best ways to be introduced to Singapore authors and literature is to pick up one of the many local anthologies published where you can sample different works by various writers. Here are some of our recent favourites.

Coast (Edited by Daren Shiau and Wei Fen Lee)

Coast
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All the stories and poems in this book bear the same title — Coast — with works from Alvin Pang, Cyril Wong, Felix Cheong, and Toh Hsien Min.

Get your copy here.

 

One (Edited by Robert Yeo)

This book features 21 short stories from Singapore’s best authors who are established in the local literary scene, including S. Rajaratnam, Minfong Ho, Kirpal Singh, and Colin Cheong.

Get your copy here.

 

Written Country (Edited by Gwee Li Sui)

Written Country
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Learn about Singapore’s modern history through literary works which highlights fifty defining moments in the country. We love anything that brings history and literature together!

Get your copy here

 

Balik Kampung series (Edited by Verena Tay

Baik Kampong series
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Explore Singapore’s districts through tales by authors who have lived in their neighbourhoods for 10 years or more. Each story is set or related to that particular area and there are currently three books in this series. 

Get your copies herehere, and here

 

Starry Island (Edited by Frank Stewart and Fiona Sze-Lorrain)

Starry Island
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Published in 2014, this book presents essays, fiction, and poetry by 24 contemporary writers in Singapore, with photographs of the country’s architecture and archival shots of Peranakan and Chinese families.

Get your copy here

 

Do you often read on the MRT train? 

Don’t be surprised to find yourself on this Instagram account. MRT Reads documents ordinary people reading on the train, whether it a physical copy or an e-book. 

Over at Twitter, writer Ng Yi-Sheng (we love his short story titled “Lion City”, by the way!) tweets his observations of readers on the train and public places with the hashtag, #sgreads. 

 

By Muneerah Bee, July 2016

 

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