Friday, 9 November 2018

Circumstance / A Yellow House

If you're in Singapore do come along to the Asia launch of Circumstance by Rosie Milne, editor of Asian Books Blog, at the Singapore Writers Festival.

Circumstance is launching alongside A Yellow House  by Karien Van Ditzhuijzen.

Details: Sunday 11 Nov, 3.30 pm, the Arts House. See you here, I hope!!

Friday, 2 November 2018

A Death in Peking. Guest post from Graeme Sheppard

The brutal murder of 19-year-old Pamela Werner in Peking one night in January 1937 shocked the world, and the police never named the murderer. The best-selling book Midnight in Peking, by Paul French, declared the perpetrator to be an American dentist, but Graeme Sheppard, a retired British policeman with 30 years’ service in the UK, with the  Metropolitan Police, decided that conclusion was flawed. After spending years investigating the case, he came up with an entirely different conclusion. So who did it? Who killed Pamela?

Over to Graeme...

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Elaine Chiew Talks to Ng Yi-Sheng, author of Lion City


Photo Courtesy: Epigram Books
 Ng Yi-Sheng is a Singaporean poet, fictionist, playwright, journalist and LGBT+ activist. He has just published Lion City, his first collection of short stories, inspired by speculative fiction, Singaporean history and myth. He’s currently working on a novel as part of a Creative Writing PhD at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and a performance lecture for the Singapore Fringe Festival, titled Ayer Hitam: A Black History of Singapore.

His books include the poetry collections last boy (winner of the Singapore Literature Prize 2008), Loud Poems for a Very Obliging Audience, and A Book of Hims; the movie novelisation Eating Air and the non-fiction work SQ21: Singapore Queers in the 21st Century. Additionally, he translated Wong Yoon Wah’s Chinese poetry collection The New Village and he has co-edited publications such as GASPP: A Gay Anthology of Singapore Poetry and Prose, Eastern Heathens: An Anthology of Subverted Asian Folklore and SingPoWriMo 2018.

He has also been active in the professional theatre since the age of 17, collaborating with companies such as TheatreWorks, W!ld Rice, Toy Factory and Musical Theatre Ltd to create plays like Hungry, 251, Georgette, The Last Temptation of Stamford Raffles and Reservoir. He is a founding member of the spoken word troupe the Party Action People and co-organised the annual queer literary reading ContraDiction for twelve years.



Photo Courtesy: Epigram Books

EC:      Welcome to AsianBooksBlog, Yi-Sheng. A real honour to have you.

First, congratulations on the publication of Lion City (Epigram Books), which will be launched at the Singapore Writers’Festival 2018. It’s a fantastic read, full of mordant humour, allegorical fabulism, political heft, and a willingness to say the unsayable.

NYS:    Thanks so much! I’m so pleased you liked it.

EC:      Praise for the book, notably Sharlene Teo, likens your stories and voice to Etgar Keret. Also Neil Gaiman. Are they influences?   

NYS:   Neil Gaiman’s been a massive influence on me: as a teenager in the 90s I read the Sandman and Books of Magic comics while they were coming out, and had my mind utterly blown by the idea of this globally (and cosmically) unified mythology and by the idea that magic’s just lurking at the edges of the contemporary urban world. Neverwhere, Marvel 1602, Smoke and Mirrors and The Graveyard Book have been great favourites too.

I’m afraid I’ve never read Etgar Keret, but I must: Lavie Tidhar also said I sounded like him.

Friday, 26 October 2018

500 words from Jo Furniss

500 words from is an occasional series in which novelists talk about their new novels. Jo Furniss has recently brought out The Trailing Spouse.

After spending a decade as a broadcast journalist for the BBC, Jo became a freelance writer and serial expatriate. Originally from the United Kingdom, she spent seven years in Singapore and also lived in Switzerland and Cameroon. Jo’s debut novel, All the Little Children, was an Amazon Charts bestseller.

The Trailing Spouse is a novel of marriage, betrayal, and murder set in Singapore. Amanda Bonham moved halfway around the world to be with the man she loves. Although expat life in Singapore can be difficult, Edward Bonham is a dream husband and a doting father to his teenage daughter, Josie. But when their maid dies in an apparent suicide, Amanda can’t help but wonder if her perfect husband has a fatal flaw. And if he can’t resist temptation under their own roof, what does he get up to when he travels? Camille Kemble also has questions for Edward. Recently returned to Singapore, Camille is determined to resolve a family mystery. Amid a jumble of faded childhood memories, she keeps seeing Edward’s handsome face. And she wants to know why. For one woman, the search for answers threatens everything she has. For another, it’s the key to all she lost. Both are determined to find the truth.

So, over to Jo...

Thursday, 25 October 2018

The Annotated Archipelago by Alfred Russel Wallace (edited by John van Wyhe)

Backlist books is a column by Lucy Day Hobor that focuses on enduring, important works from or about Asia.

This post is about The Annotated Malay Archipelago, a version of the book that 19th-century naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace wrote based on journals from his eight-year journey among the islands of Southeast Asia several years after his return to England. It was originally published in two volumes in 1869, and has never been out of print.

Wallace, a contemporary and correspondent of Charles Darwin, helped develop, or at least accepted early on, Darwin’s theory of natural selection and plotted what is now known as the Wallace Line, which separates the two ecologically distinct zones of Asia and Australia.

Contemporary readers will probably wince at Wallace’s “kill and collect” approach to studying exotic birds and mammals and abhor his characteristically Victorian racist generalisations about the physical and moral characteristics of the Asian people he encountered. Nevertheless, his work is worth reading. Wallace was an intrepid adventurer intent on studying creatures in far-flung lands, and his fascination with the wonders of the natural world continues to inspire joy.

See below to find out what you need to know to decide whether you should read The Annotated Malay Archipelago, or what you should know about it even if you never do!

Friday, 19 October 2018

Indie Spotlight: Matthew Legare

Indie spotlight focusses on self-published authors and self-publishing. Here, Matthew Legare discusses his new novel Shadows of Tokyo, the first in a projected historical thriller-noir series set in pre-World War II Japan. The second book, Smoke Over Tokyo, is coming soon.

Matthew is an indie author publishing under the Black Mist Books imprint. He also reviews new fiction and interviews authors on his blog.

So, over to Matthew…

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

On translation, by Nicky Harman

Nicky Harman, Yan Ge, Natascha Bruce

Let’s talk literary translation, or how to keep audiences riveted by swearing at them

Last week, I was at Cheltenham Literary Festival, appearing on a panel with Yan Ge and Natascha Bruce. We had carte blanche to talk about Translating China, but decided to focus on Yan Ge’s new novel, The Chilli BeanPaste Clan (Chinese: 我们家) because (let’s be honest) it helps sales, and because the three of us all had plenty to say about the book.

The Chilli Bean Paste Clan is set in a fictional town in West China and is the story of the Duan-Xue family, owners of the town’s lucrative chilli bean paste factory, their formidable matriarch, and her badly-behaved, middle-aged son. As the old lady’s eightieth birthday approaches, her children get together to make preparations. Tensions that have simmered for many years come to the surface, family secrets are revealed and long-time sibling rivalries flare up with renewed vigour.