Amidst the fears of COVID-19, I found myself venturing out to Singapore to help out with #BuySingLit 2020- an industry-led movement to celebrate stories from Singapore. Full disclosure: this was a work thing but I was also genuinely interested in the programme and, more often than not, ventured out on my own out of genuine interest.
#BuySingLit 2020 – Advocating ‘Buy Local, Read Our World’
Advocating ‘Buy Local, Read Our World’, #BuySingLit brings together homegrown book publishers, retailers and literary non-profits to encourage more people to discover and embrace Singapore’s literature. Through buying and reading local works, bibliophiles support the writers who bear witness to our lives, as well as local businesses that deliver these stories.
Contrary to some outsiders’ thoughts on the Singapore art scene, there’s so much going on in Singapore and am very impressed with the country’s active investment in promoting the local arts and culture.
Yong Siak Street Party
The first stop for me was the ‘Yong Siak Street Party‘ where SingLit took over Yong Siak Street to celebrate Singapore’s flourishing literary scene. There was an exciting lineup of programmes for patrons to discover new worlds through book launches, performances, discussions, and more.
Amidst the people painting on the street and the overall hustle and bustle all around, what stood out for me was BooksActually. I can spend hours in bookstores, and BooksActually was flooded with a mixture of local and international literature. What was cool was the book vending machines out front, such as the Harry Potter vending machine. There were also several other talks by authors such as Daryl Qilin Yam, Gwee Li Sui, Daryl Lim, O Thiam Chin, and Yeoh Jo-Ann.
I loved the panel talk by Felicia Low, Meihan Boey and Wayne Ree where they ruminated on their work as speculative fiction writers, to discuss how fantasies of the future help us decipher our anxieties, most improbable hopes, and deepest fears. What I loved the most was their willingness to reveal their inner geeks (which I absolutely lapped up): they chatted with the audience about Archie Comics, Marvel superheroes, Star Trek, living in dystopias – I’m absolutely into this stuff and kind of wished I could have coffee with them. One thing that stood out to me was their passion for growing the Singapore comic scene – hopefully, one day I can help write a comic here too.
Throughout this time I also managed to meet some remarkable authors, illustrators, sound people and poets. If you’re ever in Singapore, I recommend you drop by BooksActually and read some of the local work, or attend some BuySinglit events (there are more events to come in June).
Dean Blake is the author of Surface Children, and will soon be releasing his book of illustrations, Everyday A**holes based on his Instagram page, @deanblakeauthor. Get notified of its release at generationend.com.