Best New Singaporean Short Stories (Series)

Best New Singaporean Short Stories is a biennial anthology series from Epigram Books, celebrating the best current published short fiction by Singaporean writers.


BNSSS v3Volume Three

The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Three gathers the finest Singaporean stories published in 2015 and 2016, selected from hundreds published in journals, magazines, anthologies and single-author collections. Accompanying the stories are the editor’s preface and an extensive list of honourable mentions for further reading.

Contents

  1. Cyril Wong | Preface
  2. Jason Erik Lundberg | Introduction
  3. Yeo Wei Wei | These Foolish Things
  4. Yeoh Jo-Ann | The Thing
  5. Jennifer Anne Champion | See It Coming
  6. Jon Gresham | Walking Backwards Up Bukit Timah Hill
  7. Ovidia Yu | Salvation Solution
  8. Andrew Cheah | A Century of Loneliness
  9. Daryl Qilin Yam | Thing Language
  10. Jason Wee | The City Beneath the City
  11. Amanda Lee Koe | Last Night I Dreamt That Harry Was In Love With Me
  12. Sam Ng | Prices
  13. Yeow Kai Chai | Dark Shades
  14. Andrew Yuen | Love in a Time of Dying
  15. Joelyn Alexandra | Junk Mail
  16. Leonora Liow | Falling Water
  17. SC Gordon | Claire
  18. Nuraliah Norasid | Madam Jamilah’s Family Portrait
  19. Jollin Tan | Better Places
  20. Noelle Q. de Jesus | In the End
  21. Su Leong | Peelings
  22. Verena Tay | The Sensualist
  23. Eva Aldea | Baba Ganoush
  24. Melissa De Silva | It Happened at Mount Pleasant
  25. O Thiam Chin | Campfire
  26. Clara Chow | Want Less
  27. Philip Holden | Library
  28. Manish Melwani | The Tigers of Bengal

Honourable Mentions

From the Preface by Cyril Wong

Popular dictates of what constitutes good readable fiction usually include having a surprising beginning, a suspenseful middle, an ending with a revelation or a dramatic twist, and being peopled by memorable protagonists and intriguing minor characters. Depending on whom you ask concerning the readership for fiction, regardless of whether the writing is considered good or bad, one could argue that the rising or declining popularity of fiction is a result of the continued acceptance of the importance of such dictates.

In Singapore particularly, as fiction increasingly takes over from where poetry has left off in terms of capturing the attention of both literary creators and consumers, it is not unfair to assume that most fiction-lovers here prefer to judge a story based on more commonplace structural principles. But one could also make a case for a smaller-trend-within-a-larger-trend of readers and writers who are increasingly looking for something more in fictional prose. Especially with regard to short stories, where there might appear to be more of an inclination to experiment with form and structure, conventional dictates can be persuaded to take a back seat, providing more space and freedom to that urgent tendency to speculate, evoke or draw psychological portraits that mess around with readerly expectations.


BNSSS v2Volume Two

The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Two gathers twenty-four of the finest stories from Singaporean writers published in 2013 and 2014, selected from hundreds published in journals, magazines, anthologies and single-author collections. These pieces examine life in Singapore, beyond its borders to Toronto, California, Shanghai, Andhra Pradesh, Pyongchon and Paris, as well as to the distant past and the far future. Accompanying the stories are the editor’s introduction and an extensive list of honourable mentions for further reading.

Contents

  1. Introduction | Jason Erik Lundberg
  2. A Day In The Death | Evan Adam Ang
  3. The Cat That Disappeared | O Thiam Chin
  4. Patterns of a Murmuration, in Billions of Data Points | JY Yang
  5. Toronto | Jeremy Tiang
  6. Certainty | Tania De Rozario
  7. White Noise | Samantha Toh
  8. Visiting | Yu-Mei Balasingamchow
  9. A Red Meteor in the Margins | Cheryl Julia Lee
  10. Why Do Chinese People Have Slanted Eyes? | Amanda Lee Koe
  11. Mama at Owen Road | Gemma Pereira
  12. Anaesthesia | Andrew Cheah
  13. Foreign and Domestic | Kirstin Chen
  14. I m d 1 in 10 | Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
  15. A Short History of the Sun | Wong Shu Yun
  16. The Crocodile Prince | Ng Yi-Sheng
  17. Tenali Raman Redux | Jennani Durai
  18. Off Duty | Jinny Koh
  19. A Dream in Pyongchon | Daryl Yam
  20. Meat Bone Tea | Stephanie Ye
  21. The Moral Support of Presence | Karen Kwek
  22. Coast | Sharlene Teo
  23. Reel | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
  24. The Man Who Turned Into a Photocopier | Joshua Ip
  25. The Judge | Claire Tham

Honourable Mentions

From the Introduction

In the two years since the publication of Volume One of this anthology series, prose writing in Singapore has exploded. In deciding the contents for this new volume—of short stories written by Singaporean citizens or permanent residents, originally published between January 2013 and December 2014—I found myself reading easily double the number of pieces than for its predecessor (if not triple), travelling through unnumerable byways of story. It took a solid nine months to get through it all: single-author collections, themed and unthemed anthologies, magazines and literary journals both in print and online, prize-winners of competitions both local and international. While this made my job as anthologist and series editor much more difficult, it also enlivened my excitement at seeing the joyful bounty of short fiction that Singaporean writers were now giving themselves permission to create.

Out of all those hundreds of possible contributions, I winnowed the list down to just twenty-four (67% of these authored by women), an exceedingly tough task, as not only had the quantity of published prose writing increased dramatically, so had the quality. There were decisions over which I agonised for weeks, and many more stories that I wish we could have included, but in the end, I’m satisfied with the curation of incredible writing which you now hold in your hands.


BNSSS v1Volume One

“Singapore’s fiction revival is on track! Thirty-five years after Robert Yeo’s landmark curation of the best national stories of his time, the project re-begins with a fresh slate of short fiction that rightly welcomes several new names. Jason Erik Lundberg has done an outstanding job of choosing stories you will want to return to—like rooms in the head—for years to come!” —Gwee Li Sui, author and illustrator of Myth of the Stone

Singaporean literature has begun experiencing a sea change, with the short story form enjoying a renaissance. As a result, an explosion of short fiction with a Singaporean flavour has been produced to incredible effect, both by emerging and established writers. For the prose enthusiast, it is a very exciting time.

The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume One curates the finest short fiction from Singaporean writers published in 2011 and 2012. This ground-breaking and unique anthology showcases stories that examine various facets of the human condition and the truths that we tell ourselves in order to exist in the everyday. The styles are as varied as the authors, and no two pieces are alike. Here are twenty unique and breathtaking literary insights into the Singaporean psyche, which examine what it means to live in this particular part of the world at this particular time.

Contents

  1. Introduction | Jason Erik Lundberg
  2. The Tiger of 142B | Dave Chua
  3. The Hearing Aid | Vinita Ramani Mohan
  4. The Illoi of Kantimeral | Alvin Pang
  5. Lighthouse | Yu-Mei Balasingamchow
  6. Seascrapers | Stephanie Ye
  7. Because I Tell | Felix Cheong
  8. Sleeping | O Thiam Chin
  9. Agnes Joaquim, Bioterrorist | Ng Yi-Sheng
  10. The Dispossessed | Karen Kwek
  11. Harmonious Residences | Jeremy Tiang
  12. Randy’s Rotisserie | Amanda Lee Koe
  13. The Protocol Wars of Laundry and Coexistence | Koh Choon Hwee
  14. Zero Hour | Cyril Wong
  15. Walls | Verena Tay
  16. Copies | Eleanor Neo
  17. Welcome to the Pond | Wei Fen Lee
  18. Scared For What | Ann Ang
  19. Joo Chiat and Other Lost Things | Justin Ker
  20. Anniversary | Phan Ming Yen
  21. The Borrowed Boy | Alfian Sa’at

Honourable Mentions

From the Introduction

When I was a teenager and living in North Carolina, one of my most anticipated books each year was The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow, and published by St. Martin’s Press. At that time, I only had limited access to short fiction of the fantastic being published in the USA; my parents had gotten me subscriptions to Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, but there was a wealth of short science fiction and fantasy being published in other venues, and I didn’t quite know where to start in order to keep up with it all. However, the Windling/Datlow anthology series, each volume thick enough to kill a dozen spiders in one blow, was indispensible in keeping me current with the truly phenomenal written work being produced; and to my everlasting gratitude, it was consistently stocked by my local public library.

The series ran for twenty-one volumes, from 1987 to 2007 (with Kelly Link and Gavin Grant taking over Windling’s role for the final four), and I quickly learned to trust the editors’ judgement, even if I did not always agree with some of their choices. Deciding on the “best” of anything is always an exercise in subjective opinion, and one could be driven crazy by questioning why one mediocre story was picked whilst an outstanding work was overlooked, but taken as an aggregate whole, my literary preferences very often lined up with theirs.

As I got older, my reading tastes branched out to encompass mainstream realism, mysteries, suspense novels, and even a bit of romance, but every year I came back to YBF&H to encounter the stories that I’d inevitably missed the first time round, to re-read pieces that had already touched me, and to discover new voices of whom I’d previously been unaware. When my writer friends started seeing regular publication, it was also a delight to turn to the Honorable Mentions in the back of the book to find out who’d made it; a highlight of my career was being included twice in this list.

When it came time to assemble the anthology in your hands, I kept YBF&H very much in the back of my mind in terms of organisation, standards of quality, and openness to lots of different kinds of writing. Although this book leans more heavily toward realism than the fantastic, it still owes a great debt to Datlow, Windling, Link and Grant, and I can only hope that it lives up to their example.

Advertisements