Shirkers director writing second novel

Singapore-born director Sandi Tan.
Singapore-born director Sandi Tan.

More than a year on from the premiere of her award-winning film Shirkers, Singapore-born director Sandi Tan has revealed that she is working on a new novel - Lurkers.

She posted on Facebook on Tuesday that Lurkers, which tracks "a group of suburban Los Angeles neighbours with interlocking furies and desires", has been picked up by independent American publisher Soho Press, which published Singaporean Clarissa Goenawan's novel Rainbirds last year.

Tan described Lurkers, which is expected to come out late next year or in 2021, as "darkly hilarious" and "somewhat about female anger management".

Its characters include "two precocious Korean-American sisters whose world is rocked by a suicide; a charismatic and creepy drama teacher; an ageing gay horror novelist; and a mother and daughter with lifelong anger issues".

"There will be monsters, there will be ghosts, there will be blood in the snow (from a handbag face-smash)," she wrote in her post.

Tan, who turns 47 this year and is based in California, declined to speak to The Straits Times about the novel, saying it is still too early to share more.

Lurkers will be her second novel after The Black Isle (2012), a historical horror tale set on an island in South-east Asia with a heroine who can see ghosts.

Her acclaimed Netflix documentary, Shirkers (2018) - about how she and two friends made a movie as teenagers which was stolen by their American mentor and rediscovered years later - toured festivals and won a directing award at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in the World Cinema Documentary section.

Tan is also working on a film adaptation of The Idiot, Turkish-American author Elif Batuman's 2017 semi-autobiographical novel about a young Harvard freshman's obsessive crush on an older student.

In an interview with The Cut magazine, Tan described the book, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, as "the intelligent, creative young woman's Twilight" and said she envisions her adaptation to be like Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 film Vertigo, but told from a female point of view.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2019, with the headline 'Shirkers director writing second novel'. Print Edition | Subscribe