4th Singapore Literature Festival – The Politics of Hope


2020 Singapore Literature Festival features (clockwise from top left) Jackie Wang, Meira Chand, Tania De Rozario, Elaine Castillo, Nuraliah Norasid, and PJ Thum, among others.

NYC-based literary non-profit Singapore Unbound announces the 4th Singapore Literature Festival which is happening online from October 1st to 3rd, 2020. The festival is open to all. The theme for this year is ‘Politics of Hope‘. Going online for the first time, this independent, biennial festival brings together Singaporean and American authors and audiences for lively conversations about literature and society. The Singapore Literature Festival is conceived and organized by a group of Singaporean volunteers—writers, artists, and creatives—who call New York City and Singapore home.

You can know more about them and also follow the festival updates by following Singapore Unbound: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Festival Program

Thursday, Sep 24, 2020


8.00–9.00 pm EST
Festival Preview:
ASMR Performance by Melinda Lauw

Moderated by festival organizer Jee Leong Koh

ASMR artist Melinda Lauw translates the works of festival authors into soothing sensory experiences. If you have never experienced autonomous sensory meridian response, you are in for a treat! Speak with the artist after the experience and, in addition, learn more about our unique literary festival.



 Thursday, Oct 01, 2020

8.00–9.00 pm EST

Opening Address by Ping Jtin (PJ) Thum:
“Is There Hope for Democracy?”

Moderated by Jini Kim Watson
Co-presented by NYU English Dept’s Postcolonial, Race and Diaspora Studies (PRDS) Colloquium

Democracy today is tied to the concept of the nation-state as the basic unit of political organization for humanity. Yet this was not always so: the nation-state is a relatively recent invention. As the nation-state and nationalism are weaponized as a means for legitimizing bigotry and exclusion, how can we as human beings move past this concept and what might a future model of political organization be?

9.30–10.30 pm EST
Launch of AndThe Walls Come Crumbling Down:
Tania De Rozario and Leah Piepzna-Samarasinha

Moderated by Judy Luo
Co-presented by Books Actually

Tania De Rozario’s And the Walls Come Crumbling Down features a young queer woman in Singapore unable to find safety and refuge in her biological family or country of birth. But she insists on home and history. Part queer memoir and part poetic rumination, Tania De Rozario’s work masterfully lays bare the love, pain, and precarity experienced by those who must forge their own home. At the launch of the U.S. edition, Tania is joined by queer, disabled, femme writer Leah Piepzna-Samarasinha (Dirty River) in reading and discussion of the art of translating their experiences and inventions into words.


Friday, October 2, 2020

8.00–9.00 pm EST
The Political Possibilities of the Short Story:
Nuraliah Norasid and Ricco Villanueva Siasoco

Moderated by Inez Tan
Co-presented by The Southeast Asian Studies program (SEATRIP) at the University of California-Riverside)

Not long enough to diagnose the ills of a society, nor short enough to express the intensity of an emotion, the short story yet offers its own distinct possibilities for political thinking and re-thinking. Two terrific practitioners of the literary form, Nuraliah Norasid (The Gatekeeper) and Ricco Villanueva Siasoco (The Foley Artist) read from their work and discuss the political uses of the short story.

9.30–10.30 pm EST
Celebrity and Celebration:
Amanda Lee Koe and Paula Mendoza 

Moderated by Diane Josefowicz
Co-presented by Asia Society

The word “celebrity” has its roots in the idea of celebration, which in turn calls up not just an honored person but also a festive place. How does contemporary writing, in prose and verse, take up the terms of celebrity and celebration? Amanda Lee Koe (Delayed Rays of a Star) and Paula Mendoza (Play for Time) read from their work and discuss whom and where they celebrate, or not, in their scintillating literary debuts. 


Saturday, October 03, 2020

8.00–9.00 pm EST
Revolutionary Family Histories:
Elaine Castillo and Meira Chand

Moderated by Aimee Liu
Co-presented by Adelphi University’s MFA Program and Soapbox Series

Political revolutions and uprisings from the left have traditionally sought to expand the individual’s sympathies beyond the family. One of the novel’s most intense preoccupations, however, is the bourgeois family. How does a novelist reconcile, or even exploit, this apparent tension when writing about war and revolution? With moderator Aimee Liu (Glorious Boy), panelists Elaine Castillo (America Is Not My Heart) and Meira Chand (A Different Sky) discuss their work and its relation to political unrest in the Philippines, Singapore, India, and the USA.

9.30–10.30 pm EST
Closing Address by Jackie Wang:
“The Future of Abolition”

Moderated by Kirsten Han
Co-presented by The Evergreen Review

Poet, scholar, and activist Jackie Wang (Carceral Capitalism) speaks on the necessity for and future of the abolitionist approach to social reform. After her talk, she will engage in conversation with journalist and activist Kirsten Han and field questions from the audience.

Do check out the festival website for more details.

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