This anthology features contributions from thirty-nine contemporary writers representing some of the finest creative talent at work in the four major literary languages in Singapore today—Chinese, Malay, Tamil, and English. Many of the internationally acclaimed works collected in this anthology are available here in English for the first time in fluent, sensitive and culturally attuned versions.
Tan Chee Lay’s meditative “Post-Terrorist Phenomena”, a candid re-examination of the War on Terror, carries the subtle assurance of centuries of literary tradition in “san wen,” a popular Chinese form of creative non-fiction; Malay-Muslim Johar Buang’s verse is recognizably modern, yet draws from the same mystical tradition as Rumi and other Sufi masters; Yeng Puay Ngon’s Ginsbergesque long urban poem, Wena Poon’s magic realist short story and Xi Ni’er’s barbed fictive quips would all find favor in global literary circles today, while remaining grounded in a sense of place.
The contemporary literary imagination here cuts across boundaries of culture and text type: Memories of oppression, political strife and social crisis; questions of class, nationality, identity and race; the place of faith and spirituality in the midst of urban modernity. Language is a ground for contention as well as mediation. Gender and sexuality are subjects of inquiry and deconstruction. Like the diverse island city-state of Singapore, the many voices in Tumasik do not conform to monocultural expectations: they swim between tongues, vernaculars, conventions and codes. But this is not the transient literature of a disparate and dispirited people. Complex, diverse and cosmopolitan, the writing in this volume always carries heart and answers conscience.
“The new nation-state of Singapore, with people largely from, or descended from people from elsewhere seemed to be writing itself into being. ... Here is art that comes from the creative subconscious of artists who are part of the collective unconscious of the nation.”
- Peter Nazareth, from his introduction
“Tumasik, a singularly Singaporean collection with works that cut across generations, genres, styles and languages, is Pang’s most ambitious and important anthology to date....what is amazing is the cohesiveness that Pang achieves with works that run the gamut from plays, stories and poems to novel excerpts, essays and creative non-fiction pieces.”
- Kristina Tom, Review in QLRS Jan 2010
91st Meridian Books
243 pages • paperback • $14.95
cover design by Shari Degraw