by Zafar Anjum

Singapore is doing its best to promote reading and writing in the city state. The recently concluded Singapore Writers Festival 2005 (held once in two years) was a remarkable success that offered 80 events by 63 writers over a period of ten days.

But literary festivals alone do not inform a vibrant writing culture. Publishing of local talent is also an impotant factor. In terms of local publishing, very few local titles are published in Singapore. According to one report, Marshall Cavendish, Singapore’s largest book publisher, does not publish more than two to six local books a year. Other major publishers promoting local writing such as Ethos and Landmark Books are now more focused on publishing general and reference books that have guaranteed sales. Publisher SNP, which used to sponsor the Singapore Literature Prize of the National Book Development Council of Singapore, has also reportedly scrapped its local fiction list.

by Zafar Anjum

Personally, I have always been a fan of short stories. I like my Carver and Chekhov better than Hemingway and Updike but no doubt all of them are oh so good.

There is no special enmity towards novels though. Mark it down to my laziness and short attention span. Big, fat novels scare me. So, I am always drawn to short stories. But in the last few years, a writer was not supposed to have made it unless he had done a couple of novels before his short stories could be taken seriously, even though veterans like Naipaul had declared the form (novel) to be dead.