From The Straits Times    |


There’s nothing like lazing at home and reading a book . Here, we round up the five new reads by Singaporean female writers. Choose from a story on personal struggle to an entire collection of the best short stories Singapore has to offer. It’s time to jazz up your book catalogue.

Our picks below:

Lion Boys and Fan Girls by Pauline Loh

Credit: Epigram

The author of the well-received Lion Boy and Drummer Girl is back with a second installment of lion dance drama. This new book, however, focuses on a seperate storyline. Prome, the Principal Lion Head of Lion Legends, and his buddy, Mercury, are distracted by two girls despite vowing to focus on their careers. Following that, they are hit with a mysterious slew of attacks. Will they prevail and retain the pride of the Lion Legends? 

It’s an easy read with language that’s simple but not simplistic. Loh weaves sensational teenage drama into the context of something so local, and in the process, brings a traditional performance art to life. By combining two unlikely factors, the award-winning author stands out in a sea of heritage literature with her work. You definitely do not want to skip on her books.

The Paper Bark Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu

Eighties and 90s babies, do you remember how we used to be so obsessed with fictional American sleuth Nancy Drew? Well, Yu’s latest detective novel will fuel your nostalgia. Set in 1930s Singapore, the novel begins in a private detective agency, set up by British detective Bald Bernie.

The main character is Su Lin, a sprightly young Singaporean woman who has just been fired from the agency by Bernie. Bernie is then found dead in the agency’s filing room. And when Su Lin’s best friend’s dad becomes the scapegoat, she sets out on her own investigative journey to uncover the truth. 

A riveting storyline filled with familiar imagery, Yu sets up a fictional world any Singaporean can relate to. She brings the characters to life with defining personalities that leave the reader emotionally invested in the story. This page turner is perfect if you’re looking for some action and mystery.

The Lights That Find Us by Anittha Thanabalan

Everyone has made bad decisions in their lives, and we always hope for a second chance. In Thanabalan’s debut novel, regret becomes a deep wound for her protagonist – Shreya. 

No longer able to celebrate Deepavali without uncovering old memories, Shreya has spent three years mourning over her mistakes. But everything changes when three celestial beings visit her to help her go back into the past and right her wrongs. 

This is, as it claims to be, Singapore’s answer to A Christmas Carol. Detailed descriptions of Indian cuisine, coupled with familial brawls, are seen throughout the novel. By drawing from a classic form of storytelling and interspersing it with local culture, Thanabalan captures the essence of family in an intimate story that’s not cookie cutter. 

The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Four – selected by guest editor Pooja Nansi

Credit: Pooja Nansi

The rich language of Singaporean literature is spread out through this collection in stories of family, science fiction and love. A selection of short stories written by some of the best local budding authors, this book does not disappoint.

For the local lit buff, this book holds the varied voices of strong individuals, each with their own story to tell – how they weave their individual tales into the landscape of Singapore. 

The selection of stories are co-edited by Pooja Nansi, who is a performance poet and author of several books. She won the 2016 Young Artist Award and is currently a creative writing lecturer at Nanyang Technological University. This year, she takes on the role of Festival Director of the Singapore Writers Festival. 

The Java Enigma by Erni Salleh

While this novel is currently in its manuscript stage, it caught the eyes of the panelists of Epigram’s Book Fiction Prize. Erni Salleh is one of the top four finalists for the prize.

Although she was beat out by Malaysian author Joshua Kam for the top prize, her book will be published by Epigram in the later half of 2020. So keep a lookout!