Do more for S'pore non-fiction

Chasing The Elusive Literary Prize (Life, July 7) by Akshita Nanda was a thoughtful piece on Singaporean literature.

Permit me to point out one other issue that, as a local non-fiction writer, I have long been concerned with.

Whenever Singaporean literature is discussed with respect to competing for attention on an international stage, or representing Singapore's literary heritage, why is it that non-fiction virtually never gets mentioned?

Is there some sort of unspoken consensus that only poetry and fiction are worthy of promoting as candidates for international attention, or as examples of the "Singaporean voice"?


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Is non-fiction considered too workaday a genre to be worthy of praise or somehow not as glamorous or as creative as poetry and fiction?

I am glad that the Singapore Writers Festival has, since its inception, made room for travel writers and food writers such as myself, but I feel that much more could be done to improve the standing and visibility of non-fiction in the arts scene.

There may be many young Singaporeans out there hungry to be the next Kazuo Ishiguro, but how about the ones who yearn to be the next Anthony Bourdain or Ruth Reichl?

Christopher Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2015, with the headline 'Do more for S'pore non-fiction'. Print Edition | Subscribe