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Event: Half-day workshop for aspiring writers

AUTHORPRENEURSHIP: A Half Day Workshop for Aspiring Writers who Want to be Successful

WHEN: Saturday; 30 June|  9pm to 12pm;

WHERE: Writers’ Lounge, Book Council Office, Goodman Arts Centre

Workshop Facilitator: 

R. Ramachandran; Director| Singapore Book Council;

This workshop will be useful to emerging writers and others who wish to write for an additional income. To  those with manuscripts; the workshop will show the way forward .The workshop is focused on writing with a view for publication and sale of the written works either fiction; nonfiction or just freelance writing. At the end of the workshop the participants would have an opportunity to network  with other writers in the workshop.

The workshop  is free. Registration is required. Please email <info@bookcouncil.sg

 

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Book review: A Different Sky by Meira Chand

Reviewed by Mitali Chakravarty

A Different Sky

Title: A Different Sky
Author: Meira Chand
Publisher: Vintage Books (2011)
Pages: 488
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A Different Sky by Meira Chand spans an era of transition in Singapore from 1927 to 1956. The narrative races through a period of rebellion against the colonials, the Japanese occupation, and the move towards an indigenous government. Geographically, it travels through India, Malaysia, England, Australia and Singapore.

The Daily Mail listed it as an ‘extraordinary book’ while the Historic Novel Review says, ‘Chand weaves a gripping adventure, magnificent romance and well informed history into the sort of book it’s difficult to put down.’

Meira Chand, a well-established novelist of Swiss-Indian parentage, has created a grand, multi-layered story. The novel weaves the intricate lives of characters from multiple races and backgrounds into historic events tracing the turmoil faced by Singapore to become ‘a place of dreams, holding the souls of men to ransom’ from being ‘a pinprick on the great body of Asia’. It opens with the communist uprising of Kreta Ayer in 1927, under a sky of unrest in British Singapore and walks through three decades of transition. The three main characters, a Chinese, a Eurasian and an Indian, are introduced in a bus caught in the riot. This is an ingenious start to a story well spun. The Chinese protagonist, Mei Lan, educates herself to rebel against negative traditions. She falls in love with Howard, her Eurasian neighbour. They are torn asunder during the Japanese occupation, suffer tortures and live through horrors. Howard leaves to study in Australia funded by Raj, the rich uneducated Indian businessman whose past was that of a penniless immigrant. When he returns after graduating, he meets a new Mei Lan, almost a stranger after being victimized and tortured during the Japanese occupation despite her law degree from England. Both of them reject multiple relationships overseas.

The story winds through the trauma faced by the characters as they move to create a new Singapore, under a bright sun ‘thrusting out fingers of brilliance through the grey clouds’ with ‘a bank of red balloons drifting under the endless arc of the sky’ holding a white banner with ‘Merdeka’ (a Malay word meaning rich, prosperous and powerful) on it. Will Howard and Mei Lan unite under this different sky with the outgoing first chief minister of Singapore, David Marshall, faced by chaos and the future Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in full control? As Meira Chand intertwines the lives of real historic figures with that of her creations, she adds to the glamour, suspense and appeal of her novel.

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Events: Workshops for kids and parents: Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality Storytelling!

WORKSHOP 1
Workshop - June 22 AR Eventbrite
 
 
Children can experience Augmented Reality (AR) through colouring and designing their first AR programme. 
 
When: 22 June 2018, 10am-12pm
Where: 

SBC Training Room – 90 Goodman Road Blk E #03-32, Goodman Arts Centre, Singapore 439053
*Please note that there is no lift access to the Book Council Training Room (at 3rd level).
Cost: $60
 

Trainer:

Alison Foo – Alison has been an EduTech trainer for the past 2 years and taught over 40 classes with students ranging from pre-schoolers to the elderly. 
 
Benson Teo – Benson possesses both industry and training experiences in 360 productions, AR and VR. He has been an EduTech trainer in immersive media

technologies for the past 2 years.
 
What Will You Learn: 
Participants will learn how to create an AR programme based on a selected narrated story theme.
 
Who Should Attend:
Suitable for 7-12 year olds. Parents may attend as well. 
 
SIGN UP at  ALAP.BOOKCOUNCIL.SG or HERE:   https://goo.gl/Qd5TQv
WORKSHOP 2
Workshop - June 22 VR Eventbrite
 
Turn your own written story into a Virtual Reality experience! Create a simple 3-scene Virtual Reality environment from your own story!
 
When: 22 June 2018, 1pm-3pm
Where: 

SBC Training Room – 90 Goodman Road Blk E #03-32, Goodman Arts Centre, Singapore 439053
*Please note that there is no lift access to the Book Council Training Room (at 3rd level).
Cost: $60
 

Trainer:

Alison Foo – Alison has been an EduTech trainer for the past 2 years and taught over 40 classes with students ranging from pre-schoolers to the elderly. 
 
Benson Teo – Benson possesses both industry and training experiences in 360 productions, AR and VR. He has been an EduTech trainer in immersive media

technologies for the past 2 years.
 
What Will You Learn: 
As we explore the different storybooks, dive into Virtual Reality and watch parts of the story come alive around you.
 
Who Should Attend:
Suitable for 7-12 year olds. Parents may attend as well. 
 
SIGN UP at  ALAP.BOOKCOUNCIL.SG or HERE:  https://goo.gl/A6r4uX

 

 

About Singapore Book Council:

Singapore Book Council

Singapore Book Council (SBC) is a charity founded in 1968. Its vision is to Build Our Imagine-nation by developing creativity, imagination and original thought through writing, reading, illustrating and storytelling. Its mission is to fulfil this vision by developing the literary art sector through books and literary art events, workshops, and awards. Its focus is Asian content, content creation, translation, rights, markets and training. SBC is currently chaired by Ms. Claire Chiang, co-founder of Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts.

SBC supports the community at all levels, from language programmes and books for children, to aspiring individuals and professionals like writers, illustrators, storytellers and relevant industry partners by providing a platform to learn, network and collaborate. It also organises events to foster professional and community engagement like the annual Asian Festival of Children’s Content and All In! Young Writers Festival, and grants prestigious awards, like the Singapore Literature Prize, to recognise and encourage excellence. Finally, SBC offers publishing-related and literary arts-focused courses and workshops to enhance skills and encourage lifelong learning through its academy. SBC aims to become a hub for Asian content for the world, encouraging stories to be created and told across platforms. Through telling our own stories by writing or illustrations, it promotes understanding, impacts legacy and connects Asia with the world. 

Because it all starts with a story.


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Essay: Growing with history in Isa Kamari’s novels

By Mitali Chakravarty

Isa kamari novels - Kampong Scene by Lim Cheng Hoe

Kampong — scene by Lim Cheng Hoe

 

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.

Burnt Norton, TS Eliot

 
When I walk down the Singapura River and see the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles look down at me from the pedestal near Victoria theatre, I feel I know the man well, not because I have ever met him but because Isa Kamari, the celebrated ASEAN writer, brought him to life in his novel, 1819.

Downtown and around Singapore, one can get glimpses of the history of the island in architecture, sculpture and art. These can be directly related to the stories written by some of the local writers. The multi-faceted Isa Kamari is one such writer who holds me spellbound, taking me on a journey of exploration to the past to help infer the present. Isa – winner of the S.E.A. Write Award (2006), the Cultural Medallion Award, the highest award conferred on writers and artists in Singapore (2007), and the Anugerah Tun Seri Lanang, the highest Malay literary award (2009) – has written all his novels in Malay. Most of them have been translated into English. The translations continue to have the fluidity of his own style, of which we get a glimpse in his first English Novella, Tweet, his maiden venture into writing in English.

His writing is intense and makes one empathise with the past and present as he deftly shuttles between different periods of history, weaving it into the current fabric of the island. You live and emote with the characters – feel sorry for the Malays, the Bugis (seafaring folk from Sulawesi) and animosity towards the British rulers who manipulated the islanders by indulging them in opium and fanning their differences, following the policy of divide and rule, the favourite policy of the Raj to maintain power across its colonies, the effects of which are still evident in countries like India and Pakistan.

Isa takes us on a historic adventure through time in his novel 1819 to a past where Singapore was won by the British in a tussle for power with the Dutch, who had earlier ruled it ‘as a part of Riau’. In those days, it was often referred to as Pulau Ujong or Temasek. The island was nominally ruled by the Sultan of Johor, who was controlled by the Dutch in Indonesia, and the Bugis. At that time the borders of countries were fluid and adapted to the ruler’s needs. Johor and Singapore were part of the kingdom of Riau. It was the British who finally made sure with a treaty in 1824 that the Dutch and the locals would have no say in the administration or trade of Singapore. The British would hold the sole power.

Taking advantage of the local ruling classes’ love for a life of ease, the new rulers introduced opium and encouraged them to indulge. In a daze of opium, the Bugis and the Malay handed over the island to Raffles. Raffles, the ‘official founder’ of Singapore, signed the papers to take over the island from the local Malays. The British created different colonies for different factions of Muslims, like the Bugis, Malays and the Arabs. As the historic character of the first resident of Singapore, Farquhar, gives out in the novel, the British would ‘split and rule’ the kingdom so that they could gain ascendancy over the country and the region.

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Book Review: The River’s Song by Suchen Christine Lim

Reviewed by Mitali Chakravarty

River's Song

Title: The River’s Song
Author: Suchen Christine Lim

Publisher: Aurora Metro Books
Total number of Pages: 306
Price: Pounds 9.99
ISBN: 978-1-906582-98-2

The River’s Song is an epic novel by the ASEAN award-winning writer Suchen Christine Lim about people living in and around the Singapore River, from the mid-twentieth to the start of the twenty first century. Published in 2013, it spans an era of change and development in Singapore, which could be compared with the passing of an age as in Margaret Mitchell’s epic novel, Gone with the Wind. The story begins with the portrayal of people who lived by and around the water body for generations prior to the 1977 Singapore River cleanup. The cleanup changed the way of life irreversibly for immigrants who lived by the river, as did the American Civil War for the American settlers.

Most of the river dwellers prior to 1977 are shown to be immigrants from China or Malaya. Among them are the protagonist, Ping, and her mother, the pipa songstress, Yoke Lan. Yoke Lan insists that her daughter address her as Ah-ku, aunt in Cantonese, because she does not want to divulge her maternal status to her fans and customers. Ah-ku’s attempt to rise above poverty and move to respectability defines many of her actions. Ah-ku is more passionate, more like Scarlett O’ Hara, a colourful persona vis-à-vis her timid daughter, who is befriended by Weng, a dizi player. The story revolves around Ping and Weng till Ah-ku, who disappears from Ping’s life for some years, reclaims her daughter as a poor relative. Ah-ku returns to visibility as the wife of a rich and powerful towkay (a rich businessman), moving around in more educated circles.  The ascent to a better life removes both Ah-ku and her daughter from the proximity of the river. Ultimately, Ping goes to university in USA, where she spends the next thirty years of her life away from family and friends. She flits in and out of a marriage with an Indian who wears pink pants and calls himself Jeev. She befriends braless feminists and learns to call their country her home.

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The city and the writer: In Singapore with Amanda Lee Koe

Can you describe the mood of Singapore as you feel/see it?

Singapore is how your favorite prawn noodle hawker auntie still remembers you take your meal with extra chili even after you’ve been out of town for six months; Singapore is the scrawny kid in the playground whose name no one can remember—until with showy discretion he takes out from his back pocket the latest gadget no one else can afford, then he’s king for all of ten seconds and he believes it too; Singapore is the silent scream scoring this CAConrad poem in which you are driven to fellate flowers before security cameras orb by orb to prove in vain that you still hold true to that Cartesian dualist cliché: I think therefore I am, not the statist perversion: We think therefore you are.

What is your most heartbreaking memory in this city?

Eating homemade daal prawn curry with a bunch of migrant workers in an unfinished bungalow around Mountbatten, a Myanmarese man with bright eyes and a tired smile tells me that on one of his off days, he was in a shopping mall when he saw a toddler girl stumble, about to fall. He lunged down, reaching out to steady her, as he heard the Singaporean Chinese mother scream: “Don’t touch my baby!”

What is the most extraordinary detail, one that goes unnoticed by most, of the city?

That the city is an island is a country. We have no hinterland, no capital. We know this as a fact, but do we realize how this fact shapes us, outside in? Change is effected by instruments of the state directly—and quickly—on the sociophysical body of the city itself. As the inhabitants of this body, these modifications rub off on us, whether we are aware of their effect on us or not, whether our class cushions us less or more.

The extraordinary detail manifesting within the extraordinary detail is encrypted individually and variously in everyone you meet, it’s really only a matter of whether you are willing or able to find a way in.

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