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.

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SuchenBorn in Malaysia but educated in Singapore, Suchen Christine Lim was awarded the Southeast Asia Write Award 2012. In 1992, her novel, Fistful Of Colours, won the Inaugural Singapore Literature Prize. Critics have described her first novel, Rice Bowl, as “a landmark publication on post-independence Singapore”, and A Bit of Earth as “a literary masterwork as well as a historical document”. One of her short stories in The Lies That Build A Marriage was made into a film for national television.

Awarded a Fulbright grant, she is a Fellow of the International Writers’ Program in the University of Iowa, and its International Writer-in-Residence. In 2005, she was writer-in-residence in Scotland, and has returned to the UK several times as an Arvon Tutor to conduct writing workshops and read at the Edinburgh Book Festival. Her new novel, The River’s Song, will be launched in London and New York next spring.

Kitaab recently interviewed Suchen Christine Lim after her novel The River’s Song was released at this year’s Singapore Writers Festival.

You recently released a new novel, The River’s Song, at the Singapore Writers Festival. What inspired you to write this novel and how important it is for you?

The Singapore Literature Prize will be open to non-fiction literary works from 2014, announced Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong at the 2012 Singapore Literature Prize Awards Ceremony on Friday.

Mr Wong, who is also the Senior Minister of State for Communication and Information, said the initiative will highlight and recognise outstanding non-fiction works produced by Singaporeans and would encourage more writers to step forward with their contributions.

He added that it was timely move, and that it would recognise a greater pool of talent and their works.