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Preview: Singapore Writers Festival 2021 – Guilty Pleasures

Photo Credit: AHL

Do you feel like you have to slip a saucy novel between the covers of something less…salacious? Ever quickly switch tabs when reading fanfic of forbidden ships of your favourite television show? This year, Singapore Writers Festival (SWF) wants you to embrace it all, and be proud of your Guilty Pleasures.

Presented by Presented by Arts House Limited (AHL) and commissioned by the National Arts Council (NAC), this year’s hybrid festival will take place for 10 days from 5th to 14th November 2021, and feature local and international authors to share candid thoughts and juicy opinions, all while creating safe spaces for the public to indulge in their literary pleasures. Centering on the theme of Guilty Pleasures, SWF 2021 is all about delving into our complicated relationships between guilt and pleasure, as we bond with others out there who share the same literary loves.

SWF director Pooja Nansi

”Everyone needs a lighthearted pick me up. This year’s rather cheeky theme hopes to bring about some cheer and laughter to the local and international literary community,” says Festival Director Pooja Nansi, as she shares about this attempt to inject fun into the festival, amidst a rather dour time we live in.

“By exploring complicated relationships between guilt and pleasures, we are hoping that these novel pursuits will appeal to a wider audience and signal that the festival is not afraid of pushing boundaries to move Singapore’s literature scene forwards.”

– Festival Director Pooja Nansi
R.L. Stine. Photo credit to R.L. Stine

A total of 10 authors have thus far been released as part of the festival lineup this year. Take a blast to your past as R.L. Stine arrives, famed for the Goosebumps children’s horror series and Fear Street, which has been adapted as a three-part Netflix movie series earlier this year. R.L. Stine will be discussing his popular series Goosebumps, that took a generation of readers by storm. 

Ocean Vuong. Photo Credit: Tom Vines

Vietnamese-American poet and author Ocean Vuong will also be in the spotlight. The T.S. Eliot Prize-winning poet and recipient of the prestigious MacArthur “Genius” Grant is best known for his bestselling novel ‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, where a Vietnamese American son writes a letter to his illiterate mother. Vuong is also known for his poetry collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds. During SWF, Ocean will share about finding our voice in a world rife with narratives.

G. Willow Wilson. Photo Credit: Amber French.

Look out for the award-winning writer of Ms Marvel, G. Willow Wilson, also known for her work on X-Men, Superman and Wonder Woman. Her first novel, Alif the Unseen, won the 2013 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, and was long-listed for the 2013 Women’s Prize for Fiction. G. Willow Wilson will share her thoughts on creating a superhero for millenials.

Tan France. Photo credit: Tan Frace

Love Netflix’s Queer Eye reboot and reality TV show Next In Fashion? Tan France is here to talk about his New York Times best-selling memoir Naturally Tan, the first season of his viral YouTube series, Dressing Funny, and hosts the Queer Icons podcast. Nobody embodies the concept of ‘you are what you wear’ more than Tan France, and as such, will be talking about how we can use fashion as a tool for empowerment and empathy.

Yan Geling. Photo credit: Zhou Peng

Chinese author Yan Geling is one of the most acclaimed novelists and screenwriters writing in the Chinese language today, with her best-known novels in English including The Secret Talker, Little Aunt Crane, The Uninvited, White Snake and Other Stories, and The Lost Daughter of Happiness. Many of her works have been adapted for film and television by acclaimed directors such as Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige and Joan Chen. During SWF, Yan Geling will discuss history, intimacy and love amidst chaos.

Bjorn Shen. Photo Credit: Bjorn Shen

On the local front, look out for host of MasterChef Singapore and Chef-owner at Artichoke, Bjorn Shen, as he whips up a selection of guilty pleasure dishes. Meanwhile, author of Wet Market To Table and founder of Singapore Noodles, Pamelia Chia, discusses how we can balance nutrition, value for money and great-tasting food.

Rai of Jack & Rai. Photo Credit: Rai Kannu

Get groovy with Rai, one half of popular local singing duo, Jack & Rai, and other festival writers, as they share their favourite hits from the 80s and 90s in Mixtape Memories. Tun Seri Lanang Award-winning author Hamed Ismail will be sharing about his writing journey for the past 30 years, while SPARROW R Thyagarajan award-winning poet, Geetha Sukumaran, who together with two other festival authors, will share their views on the evolution of modern Tamil, Chinese, and Malay Poetry. 

Hamed Ismail. Photo Credit: Hamed Ismail

“The NAC has been a champion of Singapore’s arts scene for the last 30 years. We are proud of how far the SWF has come as one of Asia’s premier multilingual literary festivals; a space for local and international writers to inspire one another,” Low Eng Teong, Deputy Chief Executive (Sector Development) of the NAC. “AHL has always been an integral and highly valued festival partner of Singapore’s literary activities. From this year on, we are pleased that it will helm the festival and continue to uplift our community through the love for books.”

Pamelia Chia. Photo Credit: Gold and Grit Photography

“Arts House Limited has been involved in programming segments of the festival for  numerous years. As such, organising this year’s festival is  a natural progression in our mission to celebrate written and spoken word artists in Singapore and beyond,” adds Executive Director of AHL, Tan Boon Hui.

“We hope to continue to nurture a love for books and literature through year-round literary activities that deepen public engagement with SingLit and encourage (or for this year, entice) Singaporeans to support our local literary talents; to inspire the exploration of new worlds and ideas, and uplift communities especially during these challenging times.” 

– Executive Director of AHL, Tan Boon Hui.

Singapore Writers Festival 2021 runs from 5th to 14th November 2021. For more information, visit their website and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube . More programmes and featured writers to be revealed as the festival draws closer.

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