Book ends

Comic book artist and writer Troy Chin.
Comic book artist and writer Troy Chin. PHOTO: TROY CHIN
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin.
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin.PHOTO: BOOKS KINOKUNIYA
I Never Liked You by Chester Brown.
I Never Liked You by Chester Brown.PHOTO: AMAZON
Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories by Franz Kafka.
Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories by Franz Kafka.PHOTO: AMAZON

Who: Troy Chin, 37, comic book artist and writer. His works include his autobiographical comic book series, The Resident Tourist, which chronicles his culture shock at life in Singapore after returning from a spell abroad. He is also the author of the four-volume comic strip series Loti, and the satirical comic Bricks In The Wall.

He will be part of a literary discussion panel for Writing the City: Celebrating Singapore's Storytellers, and will discuss themes of memory and identity in literature from Singapore and around the world.

Other panellists include British writer Bernadine Evaristo and Singaporean poet Madeleine Lee. The event will be held at library@Orchard on July 16 from 6 to 8pm. Admission is free, but registration at golibrary is necessary.

What are you reading now?

I am reading The Collected Stories Of Franz Kafka. I am now in the process of beginning a new project and reading Kafka is one of the rituals I do to clear my mind from my previous manuscript. Somehow, going through classics such as The Metamorphosis, In The Penal Colony and Investigations Of A Dog unscrambles my thoughts and puts me in a proper "reset" state to start anew. It is no coincidence that Kafka's absurd narratives contain parallels to the material that I often assemble for my own work. I especially enjoy Investigations Of A Dog, which features a pessimistic dog as its protagonist. Through the dog's many questions, it reveals the dichotomy of the sciences and natural forces, and how we usually come to conclusions for expediency's sake.

I also recently read Town of Evening Calm, Country Of Cherry Blossoms by Japanese illustrator Fumiyo Kouno. It is a comic book about the effects of the Hiroshima bombings on a family of survivors, and how they cope with the ramifications a generation after. Illustrated in a line-art style, the graphics are at once deceptively simple and beautifully delicate.

I like the pacing of the book and how the story never throws any moralistic guilt upon the reader like other books dealing with the same subject matter might be tempted to do.

What books would you save from a burning house?

I would save Yevgeny Zamyatin's We and Chester Brown's I Never Liked You. We is the lesser known of the three main dystopian novels that include George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. I consider it to be the best of the trio, given its fantastical and whimsical nature, which borders on the absurd.

It is significant to me as prior to reading it in 1999, I was convinced that the other two dystopian works were the better ones, simply because they were more popular.

Brown's graphic novel is special to me as it made me realise I could do something similar with The Resident Tourist.

There are many other autobiographical comic books, but this particular one gave me the impetus to start creating that series.

•We by Yevgeny Zamyatin ($21.91, 2012, Vintage Classics (GB)) is available from Books Kinokuniya. Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories by Franz Kafka ($12.01, 1995, Schocken Books Inc) and I Never Liked You by Chester Brown ($11.85, 2002, Drawn and Quarterly) are available from

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 12, 2015, with the headline '(No headline) - BOOKENDS12'. Print Edition | Subscribe