Paul Theroux, Naomi Wolf, William T. Vollmann, Mai Jia to celebrate beauty in Singapore Writers Festival 2014

This year’s Singapore Writers Festival (SWF), Singapore’s most anticipated literary event, is back with an exciting line-up of authors and programmes centred around the theme ‘The Prospect of Beauty’. The theme signifies the festival’s focus to celebrate beauty in writing, literature and the world around us.

Singapore Writers Festival Director, Paul Tan
Singapore Writers Festival Director, Paul Tan

In its 17th edition, this year’s Festival boasts some of the world’s literary greats such as Paul Theroux, American travel writer and novelist; leading figure in the feminist movement, social critic and political activist Naomi Wolf; Raymond E. Feist, science fiction and fantasy author; Karen Joy Fowler, best-selling writer and most recently long-listed for the Man Booker Prize; Irish poet Paul Muldoon, winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; three-time US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky; Jonathan Lethem, best known for his genre-bending fiction; Barry Lopez, often regarded as the most important living writer on nature and human culture; William T. Vollmann, American journalist, novelist and war correspondent; and prolific women’s fiction author Adele Parks.

Held from 31 October to 9 November, the Festival features a riveting line-up of nearly 200 Singapore and international writers participating in over 250 events that comprise panel discussions, lectures, poetry readings, literary meals and more.

“The Festival stays true to its mission to inspire, excite and engage fans of the literary arts through thought-provoking topics and diverse programming,” said Festival Director Paul Tan. We hope this year’s offerings will bring readers back to basics – by reminding them to take pleasure in the lyrical beauty of words, a well-formed poem, or an immersive novel.”

“In recent years, the Festival has also evolved into a platform for the lively exchange of ideas and opinions,” he added. ” This year, we want our audiences to think about timely and hard-hitting topics, such as morality in literature, the trade-offs between the environment and economic development, and society’s unrealistic ideals of female beauty. We have also introduced more experiential programmes inspired by the written word and beyond – from interactive theatre to spoken word, poetry and jazz – that promise unique and stimulating experiences for our festival-goers.”

To cater to the growing list of programmes, this year’s Festival also welcomes two new venues. For the first time, thanks to a bigger programme, Little Lit!, the Festival’s children’s programme, will be held at the Children’s Wing of the National Museum of Singapore. Another new venue is Centre 42, the newly opened space for playwriting and original theatre content.

As the Festival remains one of the few multi-lingual literary festivals in the world, SWF 2014 also features an impressive line-up of Malay, Chinese, and Tamil authors as well as programmes. Some of the headlining authors include Su Tong (China), author of Wives and Concubines, the inspiration behind the film ‘Raise the Red Lantern’; Mai Jia (China), affectionately known as “the father of Chinese suspense”; Evelyn Rose (Malaysia), author of two novels adapted into popular drama serials; and feminist poet and filmmaker Leena Manimekalai (India). There will also be Literary Seminars conducted in Chinese, Malay and Tamil, while the Festival’s annual accompanying Publishing Symposium will host two sessions on publishing for the China and Malaysian markets.

SWF2014 Fringe

Curated by The Arts House, this year’s Fringe explores the lengths an individual is willing to go in pursuit of truth, freedom and justice. Under the theme Truly, Madly, Deeply, writers, journalists and activists will discuss how their convictions have driven them to go to extremes. From Mukesh Kapila, former head of the UN mission in Sudan, to Solahudin, a leading authority on Islamic extremism in Indonesia, the Fringe will bring audiences on a thrilling journey of sacrifice and obsession.

In addition, The Arts House will shine a spotlight on South America, a continent steeped in turbulent history and colourful culture. Boasting a literary canon that is immensely diverse and rich, it is perhaps most credited for introducing the genre of magic realism to the world. Featured authors include Argentine writer Eduardo Sacheri, best known for being behind the Oscar-winning film ‘The Secret in Their Eyes’ (2009), and João Paulo Cuenca, a writer and ex-journalist who was named one of Brazil’s 20 best young authors in 2012. There will also be a panel discussion on Gabriel García Márquez, and a special screening of the film adaptation of Love in the Time of Cholera.

Ticketing Details

Ticketing details and updates are available on the Festival website at, and the SWF Facebook page at Festival Passes and tickets are available via SISTIC and at Early bird sales begin on 8 September 2014 and will end on 19 October 2014.