The Singapore Writers Festival (SWF) returns for its 20th edition from Nov 3-12 with the theme “Aram”—a Tamil word which can be translated as “goodness” or “doing good”. The festival brings together about 300 writers from around the world for a series of more than 300 lectures, masterclasses, workshops and performances. With so much going on, you’ll need a well-planned itinerary, and that’s why we’ve put together this list of five events you shouldn’t miss.
Singapore and Ireland have some things in common—we’re both island countries and our population sizes are very similar—but when it comes to literature, the Little Red Dot trails the Emerald Isle by more than a few Nobel and Man Booker Prizes. What makes the Irish voice so unique and captivating? Find out at this night of music and readings led by Irish writers Cat Brogan, Abby Oliveira, Julian Gough, Claire Keegan, Deirdre Sullivan and Paul McVeigh along with Singapore’s own Deborah Emmanuel and Marc Nair. Nov 3, 8-9:30pm, The Arts House
Suki Kim (photo credit: Ed Kashi VII)
How far would you go to get a good story? How about going undercover in one of the world’s most isolated countries, where imprisonment (or worse) is a very real possibility? That’s what Korean American novelist and investigative journalist Suki Kim did back in 2011. Learn about her stint as an English teacher for the children of elite North Koreans and find out what went into writing her New York Times bestseller Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea’s Elite. Nov 5, 11am-noon, National Gallery Singapore
Spend an evening with four of Singapore’s funniest people—Fakkah Fuzz, Jinx Yeo, Rishi Budhrani and Sharul Channa—as they discuss topics that concern everyday Singaporeans. The stand-up show will be followed by a dialogue session with the quartet offering pro tips on comedy writing. Nov 10, 8-9pm, Victoria Theatre, $30
At some point, every aspiring writer will ask themselves one question: can I make money from writing? The answer, of course, is yes, but what does it take to become a successful author? Who better to get the answer from than bestselling British author Tony Parsons, the man behind novels like Man and Boy. One of the headliners of this year’s SWF, Parsons will shed light on how to get readers hooked to your writing. Nov 11, 2-3pm, The Arts House, $20
Clockwise from top left: Ovidia Yu, Adrian Tan, Oniatta Effendi and Shamini Flint
There are few things more uniquely Singaporean than kiasuism. And while we generally wear our kiasuism on our sleeves, it can (and does) have a significant impact on our lives; not to mention the lives of people around us. So is kiasuism ultimately a good thing or a bad thing? That’s the subject of this year’s SWF closing debate, featuring the likes of Adrian Tan, Gwee Li Sui, Ovidia Yu and Petrina Kow. Expect a fierce, but fun contest. Nov 12, 7-8:30pm, Victoria Theatre
Festival Passes are available for $25 from Sistic. Festival Passes give you access to all events listed here unless ticket prices are stated. Check out the full festival program here.
SG Magazine is the Official Lifestyle Media for the Singapore Writers Festival, organized by the National Arts Council.