A Transaction of Ideas Awaits at Singapore Writers Festival 2011


Selection of 25 participating writers & programme highlights announced


The Singapore Writers Festival (SWF), Singapore’s premier national literary festival, is set to inspire an exciting exchange of ideas when it returns with its 14th edition this year. Organised by the National Arts Council (NAC), this now-annual festival will take place from 22 – 30 October 2011. Exploring the theme Transaction, the Festival aims to encourage debate and discussion through a range of programmes and events while promoting reading across the different genres.


This latest edition of the Festival will feature an expanded selection of literary offerings, with an expected 120 participating writers and an array of approximately 100 events held across five central venues that make up the Festival District: Singapore Management University (SMU), National Museum of Singapore, Singapore Art Museum (SAM), School of the Arts (SOTA) and The Arts House.


Mr. Philip Jeyaretnam, Chairman of SWF 2011 Steering Committee, says, “After thirteen successful editions, the Singapore Writers Festival is now an annual event, a fitting testament to Singapore’s growing literary landscape. In this 2011 edition, SWF is moving forward with our mission to showcase the literary arts for Singaporeans, demonstrating how they enrich and inspire. At the same time, we look forward to celebrating the best of Singaporean and Asian writing and connecting our local literary community with an international audience.”


Theme: Transaction

The SWF 2011 theme aims to generate discourse among writers and thinkers on how the process of transacting affects our daily lives on a social and intellectual level. Not just about monetary exchanges or the dangers of materialism in society, transactions underscore our daily interactions and conversations we have with family, friends, colleagues and even strangers. On another level, transactions can be broadened to the marketplace of ideas that the Festival hopes will take centre stage this year.


This year’s theme has allowed the Festival to present a variety of literary talent whose works span different genres, from poetry to fiction, non-fiction, screenwriting and more.  (Please refer to Annex A for rationale of theme)


Selection of 25 Participating Writers

One of the few literary festivals in the world that is proudly multi-lingual, focusing on Singapore’s four official languages – English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil – SWF 2011 will feature esteemed writers from Singapore and around the world for an all-inclusive, engaging Festival. (Please refer to Annex B for selection of 25 participating writers)


Mr. Paul Tan, Festival Director, SWF, says, “As Singapore’s premier national literary festival, we are excited to once again gather some of the world’s most exciting talent for a festival of thoughtful exchanges and rich conversations. More than just an opportunity to host renowned international authors, the Festival is also a platform for Singapore’s established and emerging talent to be showcased alongside their international counterparts. We look forward to seeing our local writers flourish in this year’s Festival and at the same time hope to demonstrate the power of the written word to our Singapore audience.”


Singaporean Writers

As a festival that aims to be close to the heart of Singaporeans, more than half of the participating artists presented in SWF 2011 will be Singaporean. Some of the featured local talent unveiled today include English language writers Cultural Medallion recipient Lee Tzu Pheng and Singapore Literature Prize 2010 winner and Young Artist recipient Simon Tay, Malay language writer and poet Noor Hasnah Adam, as well as Chinese language author and lyricist Ng King Kang and children’s book author and illustrator Low Joo Hong. More Singaporean authors and the sessions they will be appearing in will be announced soon.


Aside from showcasing the latest developments in our literary scene, SWF 2011 will also continue with its Literary Pioneer series this year, honouring a local writer that has significantly shaped our literary landscape. This year, SWF 2011 will invite readers to celebrate the contributions of late playwright Kuo Pao Kun, a pioneer of Singapore theatre, with a showcase of his manuscripts and a special tribute reading by The Theatre Practice.  Previous editions of SWF had celebrated the works of poets Edwin Thumboo and the late Arthur Yap


Asian Writers

In line with the Festival’s strong Asian focus, SWF 2011 will also be presenting an impressive selection of Asian authors. Besides writers of Asian heritage and those living in Asia, Asian content will also be featured through the presentation of authors whose work touch on issues and themes concerning the region. They include popular Indian novelists Tabish Kahir and Vikas Swarup, respected Chinese author and screenwriter Chan Koon Chung and winner of this year’s Man Asian Literary Prize Bi Feiyu, award-winning Indonesian writer Putu Wijaya, Filipino publisher and author F Sionil Jose and Korean screenwriter Shinho Lee.


Western Writers

Other international writers presented in SWF 2011 include well-established talents from the West including former British poet laureate Andrew Motion, French fiction writer Francois Lelord, Russian novelist Andrey Kurkov, Finnish financial writer Kari Nars, as well as American authors such as acclaimed novelist Michael Chabon, popular economist Steven Levitt and science-fiction and fantasy writer Joe Haldeman.


SWF 2011 Programmes

SWF 2011 Festival Pass

For the first time, SWF will introduce a paid Festival Pass that grants access to signature events including insightful and thought-provoking panel discussions with SWF writers, meet-the-author sessions as well as screen writer events which showcase how words are translated into film.


Free Events

At the same time, a wide and varied selection of free events has been lined up for all to partake in. These include Little Lit!, a programme targeting children and families and Brand New Books where new titles will be launched with book signings. On top of all this, under the Off the Page programme, audiences will be treated to creative performances, exhibitions, writing competitions and wacky open-mic readings and more. Experience how words and stories can cross boundaries and tickle your imagination!


Other ticketed events

Other ticketed events on offer include new Festival highlight The SWF Lectures, which will give audiences the opportunity to experience creative solo presentations by Festival headliners. There will be three speakers in the inaugural series: Steven Levitt (Freakonomics (2005) & Superfreakonomics (2009)), Michael Chabon (The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (1988), Wonder Boys (1995), The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000) and The Final Solution (2004)) and Bi Feiyu, (Three Sisters(2010)) who won this year’s Man Asian Literary Prize.


Literary Meals will allow readers to get up close and personal with selected authors over a meal at one of The Arts House restaurants, while Literary Tours at the National Museum will connect audiences with Singapore’s history through poetry and prose. A range of workshops and master classes for experts to offer guidance and practical writing tips, will also be available to budding writers.


The SWF Publishing Symposium, a two-day seminar by the Singapore Book Publishers Association, will also see stimulating dialogue and discussion about the world of publishing and writing. With international speakers representing experts in their field, the Symposium will be an ideal opportunity for local and regional publishers and writers to deepen their understanding of this dynamic business and seek out new business opportunities.


In addition, events presented in conjunction with the SWF are set to enhance the Festival’s offerings and contribute to a well-rounded event. For example, the World Tamil Writers Conference held at Republic Polytechnic, is a pioneering platform for Diaspora Tamil literature and brings together scholars from around the world to explore issues and concerns facing contemporary Tamil-language writers, and examine the future of Diaspora Tamil writing.


Commenting on the SWF 2011 programming, Mr. Tan continues, “Our ambition for SWF 2011 was to curate a diverse range of engaging events and activities that would inspire not just the literary world but an even wider audience of readers from all segments of society. We hope to continue to expand the reach of the Festival and encourage a love for reading and writing, including an appreciation of Singapore-authored works. By offering something for everyone this year, we want to show how literature can be accessible, fun and meaningful.”


Sales of the Festival Pass and tickets to the inaugural The SWF Lectures and The SWF Publishing Symposium will be available from SISTIC on 19 August 2011. Tickets to other SWF events will go on sale from 2 September 2011.


Early bird prices for the Festival Pass, The SWF Lectures and The SWF Publishing Symposium are available from (19 August 2011 to 1 September 2011).


For regular updates on Festival programmes and ticketing details, literature fans and interested public can visit the Festival website at www.singaporewritersfestival.com.


For more information, please read on: 

Annex C – Singapore Writers Festival 2011 Ticketing Information 
Annex D – Singapore Writers Festival 2011 Sponsors