Picture credit: Singapore Writers Festival

Singaporean creatives are changing the game this year. Amazing women filmmakers at the last Singapore International Film Festival gave us films that were impactful and well-shot, and new names popped up at the Singapore Writers Festival 2018.

We’ve seen them, read their work and have no qualms about their upcoming success. These are four Singaporean women who will take Singapore literature to the next level this 2019.


Who: Clarissa Goenawan

The Indonesian-born Singaporean writer started writing because of a very simple reason: it was her dream as a child to write. Despite coming from a design and marketing background, Goenawan broke into the writing industry with her debut novel, Rainbirds, in 2018.

To read: Rainbirds

Picture credit: Books Actually

A coming-of-age novel with a dark twist. The novel opens with a murder and is set in 1994 Japan. Ren Ishida moves to Akakawa, where his sister was murdered, to pick up where she left off. Following his sister’s murder, Ishida is haunted by the image of a young girl in his dreams.

Why: Winner of the Bath Novel Award for unpublished or independently published novelists, finalist of the Dundee International Book Prize for debut novelists, short-listed for the SFWP Literary Award and the First Novel Prize. Having won multiple awards even before its publishing date, this is a novel you mustn’t miss.

Who: Pooja Nansi

A teacher, writer and a poet. That’s Pooja Nansi for you. She started teaching upon graduation and hasn’t stopped since. Inspired by the work of Sylvia Plath and several other women poets, Nansi’s work has earned her, rather humorously, the title of the “Angry Indian Poet”.  

She takes it in her stride and in an interview with Channel News Asia, she talks about how being part of a minority group gives her work a different voice. Her first collection of poems was published in 2007 (Stiletto and Scars) and she has gone on to produce more prolific works.

To read: Love is an Empty Barstool

Picture credit: Books Actually

Forget all the crappy romance poems you’re seeing on Tumblr or Instagram (yes, even the ones on self-pity and broken hearts). This collection of poems is here to tell you that you’re able to feel more than just empty and depressed when someone breaks your heart.

Why: Famed for her woman-centric works, Nansi was awarded the Young Artist Award in 2016 by the National Arts Council.


Who: Sharlene Teo

A recipient of the Booker Prize Foundation Scholarship and David T.K. Wong Creative Writing Fellowship, Sharlene comes from a literary background. Take a look at her work and you’ll see that these awards are truly well-deserved. Not one to play by the rules, Sharlene’s work pokes at minute societal problems that are brushed under the carpet, until the repercussions surface.

Recently shortlisted for the 2017 Berlin Writing Prize, she is the winner of the inaugural Deborah Rogers Writer’s Award for her first novel, Ponti.  

To read: Ponti

Picture credit: Books Actually

A story about two absolutely average teenage girls, this book stands out among cookie-cutter chic literature. In an interview with The Guardian, she mentioned that her work simply arose out of the fact that there weren’t many female protagonists that were just average girls.

“I’ve never read a book depicting two teenage girls who are equally losers, unknowing and unattractive,” Teo says in her interview with The Guardian.

Why: In the words of Ian McEwan, “Remarkable … her characters glow with life and humour”. Enough said.


Who: Natalie Wang

A versatile writer who deftly words the human condition into her collection of works, Natalie Wang’s upcoming work will mark the next wave of great local literature.

Her work has been published in various literary journals like the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore and various editions of SingPoWriMo: The Anthology.

To read: The Woman Who Turned into a Vending Machine

Picture credit: Books Actually

Her debut collection of poetry focuses on gender inequality and is speckled with quirky personas; a housewife who turns into a vending machine and another dreams of cats.

Why: She’s been an active participant of the Singapore Writer’s Festival and has been part of several intriguing panel discussions.

Still not convinced? Take a look at her blog here, her writing will get you on board the local lit train.