Best New Singaporean Short Stories is a biennial anthology series from Epigram Books, celebrating the best current published short fiction by Singaporean writers.
“All in all, this is an important collection which showcases the gamut of writers and works available in Singaporean literature, and is a book worth recommending to both seasoned and and occasional readers.”
—Caterina Poh, Mackerel
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.
- Cyril Wong | Preface
- Jason Erik Lundberg | Introduction
- Yeo Wei Wei | These Foolish Things
- Yeoh Jo-Ann | The Thing
- Jennifer Anne Champion | See It Coming
- Jon Gresham | Walking Backwards Up Bukit Timah Hill
- Ovidia Yu | Salvation Solution
- Andrew Cheah | A Century of Loneliness
- Daryl Qilin Yam | Thing Language
- Jason Wee | The City Beneath the City
- Amanda Lee Koe | Last Night I Dreamt That Harry Was In Love With Me
- Sam Ng | Prices
- Yeow Kai Chai | Dark Shades
- Andrew Yuen | Love in a Time of Dying
- Joelyn Alexandra | Junk Mail
- Leonora Liow | Falling Water
- SC Gordon | Claire
- Nuraliah Norasid | Madam Jamilah’s Family Portrait
- Jollin Tan | Better Places
- Noelle Q. de Jesus | In the End
- Su Leong | Peelings
- Verena Tay | The Sensualist
- Eva Aldea | Baba Ganoush
- Melissa De Silva | It Happened at Mount Pleasant
- O Thiam Chin | Campfire
- Clara Chow | Want Less
- Philip Holden | Library
- Manish Melwani | The Tigers of Bengal
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.
“This collection is a fascinating, engaging introduction to the Singapore story as it was in 2013-14. I very much look forward to volume 3.”
—Angus Whitehead, Asiatic
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.
- Introduction | Jason Erik Lundberg
- A Day In The Death | Evan Adam Ang
- The Cat That Disappeared | O Thiam Chin
- Patterns of a Murmuration, in Billions of Data Points | JY Yang
- Toronto | Jeremy Tiang
- Certainty | Tania De Rozario
- White Noise | Samantha Toh
- Visiting | Yu-Mei Balasingamchow
- A Red Meteor in the Margins | Cheryl Julia Lee
- Why Do Chinese People Have Slanted Eyes? | Amanda Lee Koe
- Mama at Owen Road | Gemma Pereira
- Anaesthesia | Andrew Cheah
- Foreign and Domestic | Kirstin Chen
- I m d 1 in 10 | Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
- A Short History of the Sun | Wong Shu Yun
- The Crocodile Prince | Ng Yi-Sheng
- Tenali Raman Redux | Jennani Durai
- Off Duty | Jinny Koh
- A Dream in Pyongchon | Daryl Yam
- Meat Bone Tea | Stephanie Ye
- The Moral Support of Presence | Karen Kwek
- Coast | Sharlene Teo
- Reel | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
- The Man Who Turned Into a Photocopier | Joshua Ip
- The Judge | Claire Tham
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.
“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.
- Introduction | Jason Erik Lundberg
- The Tiger of 142B | Dave Chua
- The Hearing Aid | Vinita Ramani Mohan
- The Illoi of Kantimeral | Alvin Pang
- Lighthouse | Yu-Mei Balasingamchow
- Seascrapers | Stephanie Ye
- Because I Tell | Felix Cheong
- Sleeping | O Thiam Chin
- Agnes Joaquim, Bioterrorist | Ng Yi-Sheng
- The Dispossessed | Karen Kwek
- Harmonious Residences | Jeremy Tiang
- Randy’s Rotisserie | Amanda Lee Koe
- The Protocol Wars of Laundry and Coexistence | Koh Choon Hwee
- Zero Hour | Cyril Wong
- Walls | Verena Tay
- Copies | Eleanor Neo
- Welcome to the Pond | Wei Fen Lee
- Scared For What | Ann Ang
- Joo Chiat and Other Lost Things | Justin Ker
- Anniversary | Phan Ming Yen
- The Borrowed Boy | Alfian Sa’at
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.