I know, I know, I’ve been very bad this year – blogwise, that is. With my miserable amount of posts, there’s probably no way I can salvage my standing in Santa’s books. Still – one can try!
So here’s my attempt to make myself feel a little better about my year of blog-inaction. A List! Everyone loves lists! Right? What more a book list of Singapore published titles?
Archibald Series by SherMay Loh
Aristocracy? Check. Boarding school adventures? Check. Chivalry and mayhem? Check!
Well now, who can say no to a series like that? SherMay Loh spins a delightful tale tale about Archibald (Archie for short) an earnest, awkward boy trying to forge his own identity amongst opposing social and familial expectations. It’s a rollicking adventure set in a medieval world of kings and knights. Wholesome, funny and heartwarming, this series reminds me of the Enid Blyton adventures I loved as a kid.
For your Lover, or the Lover of Love
Making Love with Scrabble Tiles by Joshua Ip
I attended the very entertaining Singlish Panel at the 2013 Singapore Writer’s Festival where I had the chance to listen to Joshua Ip read some of his poems in “Sonnets from the Singlish“. This made me decide immediately that I had to own a copy of that book, only to find it sold out. So when Making Love with Scrabble Tiles was published, I purchased it at once. It did not disappoint.
Tiles is a slim volume of poems about relationships – written in an accessible, empathic way. In it, Ip dissects love in all its shapes and forms, singling out an act, a moment, a flash of sentiment and then pulling it taut with words. Love, being a universal emotion, means that these poems are easily understood by all, but I especially appreciate how he skillfully uses localisms to weave another layer of intimacy with the reader – where only those who have lived in Singapore will understand that other dialogue about prawn peeling in “first date at jumbo seafood”, or where the Singapoean accent takes centre stage in the vocalisation of love in “tongues”. I suppose it’s that additional layer of context that makes this collection work so well for me – it almost reads like a roadmap for the Singaporean heart, familiar yet foreign, old yet new.
The Resident Tourist by Troy Chin
I admit I was late to this series, but once I discovered it this year, I tore through it (yes, it was that good), even if it left my heart quite broken in the process.
The Resident Tourist is an autobiographical graphic novel series about the life of Troy Chin – his childhood, his youth, his sense of alienation when he returns to Singapore after 10 years in America, and his struggles to establish himself as a comic artist in Singapore. If you’ve ever felt like an outsider, or if you’ve ever felt that love-hate weariness with the concept of being Singaporean, this series will have plenty of “aha” moments for you. Also, if you’re a (geeky) child of the eighties like I am, reading about his childhood escapades – the school days, the video games, the music … will probably make you smile. Oh the nostalgia!
I once told a friend that I thought Troy Chin was the voice of a generation – and she immediately told me to stop my exposition, fearing that I’d overhype the book for her. I hold on to my theory though – at least, I think he is the brutally honest voice of my generation, jaded, lost, yet still searching for a unicorn in the horizon.
For the Fairytale Enthusiast
Eastern Heathens: An Anthology of Subverted Asian Folklore by Various Authors
Ok, I admit that I have a story in here, so I’m probably biased, but who doesn’t like fairytale retellings? Asian fairytales aren’t often in the limelight, despite the abundance of lore and legend. This collection of edgy tales would make a nice gift for someone wanting a respite from western lore.
In Eastern Heathens, you’ll find Asian folktales retold in a variety of genres. Some are funny (Tenali Raman Redux by Jennani Durai), some are sexy (Siren by Amanda Lee Koe) and some are lyrical (The Fox Wife Dreams by Jeannine Hall Gailey). There’s even a sci-fi retelling of Lady White Snake (Always a Risk by Jason Erik Lundberg). Short and punchy, these are tales that challenge the conventions of folklore and spin them in a new light.