Bookends

Yeo Wei Wei launched her first collection of short stories, These Foolish Things & Other Stories, at the recent Singapore Writers festival.
Yeo Wei Wei launched her first collection of short stories, These Foolish Things & Other Stories, at the recent Singapore Writers festival.PHOTO: HO "THE FUZZ" M.X

Who: Yeo Wei Wei, writer, 42

As a young academic, Yeo wrote her first short story in 2005.

Since then, Yeo, previously a lecturer at the National University of Singapore and the head of the English literature department at the School of the Arts, has had works published in journals and anthologies, including Union: 15 Years Of Drunken Boat, 50 Years Of Writing From Singapore (2015), Passages: Stories Of Unspoken Journeys (2013) and Stationary (2015).

The freelance writer, translator and educator has written essays on literature and cultural studies and translated Chinese poetry.

She also wrote a children's book, Salted Fish, in which she worked with an artist to produce a story featuring an iconic work of art.

She launched her first collection of short stories, These Foolish Things & Other Stories, at the recently concluded Singapore Writers festival.

Yeo is also the books curator for Gallery & Co, the retail and F&B space at the National Gallery Singapore, and a writer-in-residence at Nanyang Technological University.

What are you reading now?

I am reading Dogs At The Perimeter by Madeleine Thien, one of my fellow writers-in-residence at NTU this year. I feel her prose is elegiac, moving and the lyrical intensity of her writing spins a web around the reader.

In the book, the protagonist is a survivor of the genocide by the Khmer Rouge whose past catches up with her and threatens to unravel the new life she has built in Montreal, Canada.

The novel looks squarely at political violence and the scars of history that cannot be erased.

I am also reading Jeremy Tiang's short story collection It Never Rains On National Day. I met him at the Singapore Writers Festival. The stories in the collection are cosmopolitan vignettes.

I have read three stories so far and I like his clear-sighted, unsentimental explorations of power in human relationships.

I just realised that all the people I am reading this month have surnames starting with the letter T.

The third T is Tolstoy (Leo Tolstoy), a novelist who taught me that sometimes, we might have to grow up a little before we are ready to read a great novel like Anna Karenina.

The book I'm reading is not one of his novels, but instead, his philosophical investigation of the nature of art.

In What Is Art, Tolstoy explores the roles of ethics and emotion in the making and reception of art.

What books would you save from a burning house?

I would not save anything.

Everything happens for a reason, including fires that wipe out book collections.

•These Foolish Things & Other Stories by Yeo Wei Wei (Ethos Books, $18.60, 2015) is available at ethosbooks.com.sg. Dogs At The Perimeter by Madeleine Thien (McClelland & Stewart, $19.23, 2012) and What Is Art by Tolstoy (Hackett Publishing Company, $12.82, 1996) are available at amazon.com. It Never Rains on National Day by Jeremy Tiang (Epigram Books, $18.90 , 2015) is available at epigrambooks.sg.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 29, 2015, with the headline 'Bookends'. Print Edition | Subscribe