Junot Diaz coming for Singapore Writers Festival

Junot Diaz (above) will deliver some of the lectures at the festival. Also attending is author Jay Asher.
Junot Diaz (above) will deliver some of the lectures at the festival. Also attending is author Jay Asher.
Junot Diaz will deliver some of the lectures at the festival. Also attending is author Jay Asher (above).
Junot Diaz will deliver some of the lectures at the festival. Also attending is author Jay Asher (above).

This year's festival boasts about 65 international names, among the more than 300 authors who are attending

Dominican-American writer Junot Diaz, American poet Li-Young Lee and British poet Simon Armitage are among the big international names who will be coming to the Singapore Writers Festival (SWF) from Nov 3 to 12.

The full line-up of the festival, which is in its 20th edition, was revealed on Tuesday at a launch at the National Gallery Singapore.

More than 300 authors, including about 65 international names and 240 Singapore-based writers, will take part in the festival's more than 290 programmes.

Diaz, who won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao, Armitage and Lee will join previously announced headliner Ken Liu, an American science-fiction and fantasy writer, in delivering some of the SWF lectures.

Also attending the festival are award-winning Israeli author Etgar Keret; author Jay Asher, who wrote 13 Reasons Why, a novel about teenage bullying that has since been made into a Netflix series; Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet Rae Armantrout; and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ian Johnson, who covered the persecution of Falungong practitioners in China.

The festival will also be highlighting the rising genre of speculative fiction through writers such as Aliette de Bodard, the French author behind the Obsidian And Blood trilogy, and American graphic novelist Marjorie Liu.

Singaporean poet Lee Tzu Pheng will be the literary pioneer featured at this year's festival, something which the 71-year-old says has been both unexpected and somewhat overwhelming.

"It's incredible the way time overtakes you and, suddenly, you're a pioneer."

She will be giving a lecture about her more than 30 years of experience writing poetry. Of the festival marking its 20th edition, she says: "The audience for it has really grown. I like the way it is now a cross-fertilisation, a showcase of not just writing, but also art and other media."

Visual artist and photographer Alecia Neo, 31, was commissioned to produce a work in response to the festival's theme of Aram, a Tamil word which means "goodness" or "doing good".

She produced a video and series of images inspired by the stories of people she had met, such as a Bangladeshi migrant worker caught up in an employment dispute, and a woman who became the caretaker of her mentally ill son.

Her work explores the concept of homeostasis.

"I felt it was about the idea of how people are connected to something bigger than their selves, how we must regulate all these diverse elements and still achieve equilibrium."

The festival was started in 1986 as a biennial event and became an annual event in 2011.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2017, with the headline 'Junot Diaz coming for Singapore Writers Festival'. Print Edition | Subscribe