Books literature

Preview: #BuySingLit 2020 – Buy Local, Read Our World


The annual #BuySingLit returns this March in its fourth attempt to continue pushing the public to take an interest in local literature, and purchase local authors. Taking place over two weekends, beyond just book fairs, members of the public can look forward to an islandwide programme of activities that will have words leap off the page via performances, workshops and more.

Themed ‘Buy Local, Read Our World’, locations range from the heartlands to the iconic Jewel Changi Airport, and even the revamped, historic Pasir Panjang Power Station. Over 60 programmes are set to take place over the two weekends, uniting homegrown book publishers, retailers and literary non-profits as they celebrate local stories in their own way.

At Pasir Panjang Power Station, visitors are set to embark on a sensory journey through the visual landscapes and soundscapes of Singapore literature, offering up installations that blend mediums and reimagine our local stories. Feel a chill in your bones with Cake Theatrical Productions’ Glorious, Monstrous, Hantu Tales from Singapore, a live performance inspired by  some of Singapore’s most haunting contemporary novels such as Nuraliah Norasid’s “The Gatekeeper” and Sharlene Teo’s “Ponti”. The work was first commissioned by National Arts Council and presented at Southbank Centre as part of London Literature Festival 2019.

Photo Credit: Alecia Neo

#BuySingLit will also be launching ‘the world’s first literary dance party’ at Sing Lit Sounds: A Silent Disco, where musical talents like .gif, Fauxe and Mantravine have crafted new tunes after reading SingLit classics. Explore the history of the power station itself with the site-specific Modern Resonance II, initiated by Goethe-Institut Singapore and staged by sound artist Li-Chuan Chong, spoken word poet Deborah Emmanuel and visual artist Alecia Neo.

Says Charlene Shepherdson, Sing Lit Station’s Station Control: “When we brainstormed programmes for #BuySingLit 2020, we knew we wanted a way to bring readers and writers together and a silent disco is the perfect place for introverts and extroverts to meet. The technology creates a sense of community around you, yet there’s also a sense of play and exploration. We constantly look for inspiration and being able to showcase the mother tongue languages around us was important. We hope the silent disco opens
new perspectives of the book in your hand. If you understand the language, you’ll unlock new nuances and beats in the words of the writers. If you don’t, you’ll be transported to a world of rhythms and moods by the musicians, bringing new life to your pages.”

This year’s edition will also feature community events, with activities to delight visitors of all ages. Bring the family to Jewel Changi Airport and get into the the gotong royong spirit with “GoToRoYo!” – Together @ Canopy, as characters from SingLit books come alive with live adaptations by UP Collective at the Canopy Park. Or travel down to the heartlands of Bedok Town Square for Hello SingLit! X Arts in Your Neighbourhood by Woods in the Books, a children’s book fair with live book readings and meet-the-author sessions.

Alongside this roster of new events, #BuySingLit 2020 will also be coinciding with the return of The Arts House’s Textures – A Weekend With Words, and the Pesta Buku Melayu Singapura 2020 (Singapore Malay Book Fair 2020) for its second year. Taking place at Wisma Geylang Serai with the theme “Meraikan Karya Melayu Singapura”, which means “celebrating Singapore Malay literature”, the fair will include the launch of 11 books, Malay poetry recital, book discussions, interactive kuih-making, a theatrical adaptation of a classic Malay tale and more.

Says Syed Ali Semait, director of publishing house Pustaka Nasional: “We organised the Malay Book Fair so the public can understand that we need to preserve and protect Malay culture through language use. We are showcasing recent Malay language content by local writers in hopes of connecting both the young and old to the language and culture. Last year, our first iteration saw some 3,000 visitors over two days. We find this high footfall encouraging as well as reflective of a rising interest in, and demand for local Malay books and authors.”

Speaking about the overall thrust of this year’s programme and the hope for greater engagement with SingLit, Executive Director of the Singapore Book Council William Phuan shared: “This year’s movement creates experiences of SingLit that bring people together. Through our island-wide programmes, we hope to tap on SingLit’s potential to connect diverse communities – from the young and the old; to writers and artists; people passionate about SingLit, and those new to it. We believe that stories have the potential to bring people together. We hope that everyone will be excited to explore and enjoy
what #BuySingLit has to offer this year.”

#BuySingLit returns from 6th to 8th and 13th to 15th March 2020. For more information and the full list of programmes, visit their website here

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