Singapore Shelf

POETRY

A LUXURY WE MUST AFFORD

Edited by Christine Chia, Joshua Ip and Cheryl Julia Lee Math Paper Press/ Paperback/ 166 pages/$19/ BooksActually

This anthology picks up where an earlier one, A Luxury We Cannot Afford, left off before the death of Singapore's founding premier Lee Kuan Yew, who used that oft- quoted phrase to describe poetry.

Instead of looking back into the past, the works in this new volume conjure visions of what is to come - from Cyril Wong's dystopian newsfeed of headlines from the future to Seng Yu Ying's social media fragments with a touch of Singapore Gothic.


MIGRANT TALES

Edited by Zakir Hossain Khokan and Monir Ahmod

Babui Prokashoni Paperback/ 67 pages/$10/ BooksActually

By day, they work in construction sites and shipyards. By night, they stay up late writing love letters and laments of exile.

This first-ever anthology features the poetry of 18 Bangladeshi workers in Singapore, including Migrant Workers Poetry Competition winners Zakir Hossain Khokan and Bikas Nath, as well as locally published poet Mohammed Mukul Hossine.


FICTION

EVERY MOVING THING THAT LIVES SHALL BE FOOD

By Grace Chia

Math Paper Press/ Paperback/ 259 pages/$19/ BooksActually

A student contemplates breaking up with her boyfriend, but is given pause by his mother's cooking. Two friends reconnect over a tea ceremony. A vegetarian tourist discovers a different sort of forbidden flesh in Fortune Centre.

Chia's new short story collection revolves around consumption - not just the literal eating of food, but the ways in which people crave and consume one another. At times raunchy, at times poignant, her tales probe the curious appetites of society.


TWEET

By Isa Kamari

Kitaab/Paperback/ 80 pages/$15/ Books Kinokuniya

Cultural Medallion recipient Kamari, who has published nine novels in Malay, ventures into English writing in this novella with a touch of fable. Set in Jurong Bird Park, it centres on a conversation between a grandfather and his grandson.


WE R FAMILY

Edited by Grace Chia

Math Paper Press/ Paperback/ 130 pages/$19/ BooksActually

This anthology of short stories was put together as a response to the proposed pulping of children's library books not considered "pro-family" three years ago.

These eight stories feature families that do not fit in traditional parameters, from a father and son who bond over a loss through knitting to a teenager moving to New York to stay with a cousin and her partner.


NON-FICTION

LIM CHONG YAH: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY

By Lim Chong Yah

World Scientific/ Hardcover/ 388 pages/$55/ Major bookstores

The 84-year-old professor and founding chairman of the National Wages Council details how he rose from a hardscrabble childhood in Malacca, during which he was thrown into jail as a 10-year-old, to become one of Singapore's most distinguished economists.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 31, 2017, with the headline 'Singapore Shelf'. Print Edition | Subscribe