Association of Writers and Writing Programs
Minneapolis Convention Center / Hilton Minneapolis Hotel
Each year, AWP holds its Annual Conference & Bookfair in a different city to celebrate the authors, teachers, students, writing programs, literary centers, and publishers of that place. More than 13,000 writers and readers attended the 2015 conference, and over 700 exhibitors were represented at the bookfair.
In addition to having an exhibit booth at this year’s bookfair, MANOA presented two panels:
The Challenges of Translating and Publishing Asian Literature
Date/Time: 9:00am – 10:15am on Thursday April 9, 2015
Location: Room L100 B&C, Lower Level
Participants included Jeremy Tiang; Frank Stewart moderated.
Starry Island: New Writing from Singapore
Date/Time: 12:00pm – 1:15pm on Saturday April 11, 2015
Location: Room L100 F&G, Lower Level
New York Launch of Starry Island: New Writing from Singapore
Saturday, September 13, 2014
St. Mark’s Bookshop, 136 E 3rd Street (between Ave 1 and A)
Words by Jee Leong Koh
It was a wet night, but the drizzle did not keep the crowd away from St. Mark’s Bookshop, now in hip new digs in the East Village. Organized by the team behind Singapore Literature Festival, the event was the New York launch of Starry Island: New Writing from Singapore. The launch, held under the auspices of Manhattan Lit Crawl, attracted many crawlers. Fans of the Second Saturdays Reading Series, which culminates in the SLF this year, also turned out in enthusiastic numbers. There was standing room only in the stylish space.
The anthology Starry Island features poetry, fiction and essays by 30 Singaporean writers and translators. It is edited by Frank Stewart and Fiona Sze-Lorrain, and published by the University of Hawai’i Press as part of MANOA’s series of international literature. Contributors include such bright lights as Philip Jeyaretnam, Ng Yi-sheng, Wena Poon, Alfian Sa’at, O Thiam Chin, Cyril Wong, Toh Hsien Min and Boey Kim Cheng. Wena Poon and Cyril Wong are also featured authors at the upcoming Singapore Literature Festival.
Three contributors, all based in New York City, participated in the book launch. Jeremy Tiang read from his graceful translation of Wong Yoon Wah’s nostalgic essay “Cast from Paradise.” Amanda Lee Koe, participating in her first New York reading, entertained the crowd with an extract from her story “Panda Cunt, Bear Gall.” Koh Jee Leong read from his collection of zuihitsu The Pillow Book, which has been shortlisted for this year’s Singapore Literature Prize.
After the readings, a lively Q&A followed. The writers were asked about the influence of New York City on their writing. They were also quizzed on freedom of expression in Singapore. The National Library saga came up in the discussion, as did the recent ban on Tan Pin Pin’s documentary “To Singapore, with Love” about political dissidents living in exile. When the writers disagreed about the centrality of censorship to any presentation of Singapore literature, the audience was palpably energized by the exchange. The Q&A was moderated by Paul Rozario-Falcone, who chairs, with Jee Leong Koh, the Singapore Literature Festival in New York.
It was wonderful to talk about Sing Lit, as Singapore literature is affectionately called, in a neighborhood legendary for launching counter-cultural arts movements. We were just two blocks from the famous Nuyorican Poets Café. SLF thanks St. Mark’s Bookshop for hosting the book launch, and Manhattan Lit Crawl for its help in putting together the event. We are very grateful to the University of Hawai‘i Press and MANOA journal for donating copies of Starry Island, in order to raise funds for our volunteer-led, independent initiative to bring Sing Lit to New York. Starry Island is available at St. Mark’s Bookshop, the Brooklyn Book Festival (Table 215), and the Singapore Literature Festival in New York (Oct 10–12, 2014).
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JEREMY TIANG has translated six books from Chinese, including work by Zhang Yueran, You Jin and Yeng Pway Ngon, and was recently awarded a PEN/Heim Translation Grant. He also writes and translates plays. His short fiction has appeared in Esquire, Ambit, Meanjin, Litro, the Istanbul Review and Best New Singaporean Short Stories, and won Singapore’s Golden Point Award in 2009.
AMANDA LEE KOE is the fiction editor of Esquire (Singapore). She was the 2013 Honorary Fellow of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, and her first book of short stories, Ministry of Moral Panic, was long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award.
JEE LEONG KOH is the author of four books of poetry, including Seven Studies for a Self Portrait. His latest volume The Pillow Book has been translated into Japanese. A new collection of verse is forthcoming from Carcanet Press in 2015.
PAUL ROZARIO-FALCONE is a New York-based Singaporean writer and editor. He is the author of Zheng He and the Treasure Fleet 1405-1433: A Modern Day Traveler’s Guide from Antiquity to the Present.