Singapore Writers Festival 2013 brings you into the world of Utopia/Dystopia


Festival reaches out to audiences with popular genres and thought-provoking discussions

The 16th edition of the Singapore Writers Festival (SWF) returns with the theme of Utopia/Dystopia, through popular genres such as fantasy and crime, with panel discussions exploring the tensions in binaries such as love-hate, war-peace and imagination-reality.


2  Apart from writers from the popular genres, the Festival’s highlights include Britain’s first female Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, well-known philosopher AC Grayling, and Nobel Laureate Gao Xingjian, who will premiere his documentary film, Requiem For Beauty, at the Festival. The Festival is set to transform the Bras Basah-Bugis precinct into a lively multi-lingual literary exchange, from 1 to 10 November 2013, with an exciting line-up of more than 190 Singapore and international writers.


3  Fuelling further discussion on this year’s Festival theme, the programme line-up features leading non-fiction writers such as Jung Chang, author of the critically acclaimed Wild Swans; Fatima Bhutto, a Pakistani fiction writer and granddaughter of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto; Laura and Tracy Hickman, who created the popular fantasy novel series Dragonlance; Mohsin Hamid, acclaimed fiction writer of The Reluctant Fundamentalist; Lucy Hawking, popular young adult fiction writer and daughter of physicist Stephen Hawking; and best-selling crime fiction writer Peter James. In addition, the SWF will feature the first Singapore lecture this year by well-known Singapore writers Gwee Li Sui and Adrian Tan, who will examine how the literary classics Brave New World and Animal Farm are relevant to Singaporean audiences today.


4  Paul Tan, Festival Director, SWF, says, “The SWF has always sought to connect our audiences with literature in diverse ways, and through topics close to their hearts. We have a rich offering of programmes this year, including a focus on crime writing and themes of violence and war, which all shine a light on the darker side of humanity. There are other aspects of the Festival which we think will surprise audiences – a strong Nordic regional focus, children’s activities in Singapore’s four official languages, storytelling for adults in a pub and even “guerrilla” literary performances around Singapore Biennale installations, among others. We look forward to welcome readers of all stripes – from young readers, literary fiction aficionados to those who want to learn more about Singapore writing!”


Highlights of the 2013


Festival Festival Pass Events

5  At only $15, the Festival Pass gives festival-goers access to more than 200 Festival events. Some highlights include:

  • Panel Discussions ranging from topics on speculative fiction and alternate realities with G Willow Wilson, to exploring how bilingual writers navigate the heritage and meaning behind each language with Gao Xingjian.
  • In Conversation sessions with exiled poet and tattoo artist Kosal Khiev and Singaporean performance poet Marc Nair, as they discuss the life-changing power of poetry.
  • Meet the Author sessions with best-selling crime fiction writer Peter James as he shares his inspiration behind the best-selling Roy Grace series; and trained clinical psychologist Oliver James who will talk about office politics, and the possibility of a fulfilled life in a world fraught with a thousand and one woes. 
  • Ream to Reel will showcase literary texts by SWF’s featured authors which have been adapted to film, including a screening of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, based on Mohsin Hamid’s book of the same name, and Colin Goh’s award-winning Singapore Dreaming. Audiences will also have a chance to meet the authors after the film screenings.
  • Brand New Books sees the launch of a bumper crop of 69 new books in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil, covering fiction, children’s writing and poetry in 39 events. Anticipated new titles include Isa Kamari’s four novels translated into English, the Collected Poems of Arthur Yap and Suchen Christine Lim’s novel, The River’s Song. New non-fiction titles range from Tom Plate’s critical writings on Asia to Venka Purushothaman’s The Art of Sukumar Bose.
  • The SWF Closing Debate returns with its usual tongue-in-cheek, taking a riff on the buzz arising from the falling number of Singaporean students studying literature in schools. Two sides will square off on the motion: This House Computes That Singaporeans are Illiterate Robots.


SWF Fringe

6  Curated by The Arts House, this year’s SWF Fringe will explore the dark side of fairy tales and folklores. Titled Once Upon A Time, programmes at The Arts House will feature renowned authors including multi-award winning mythic fiction author Terri Windling and filmmaker and novelist, Catherine Breillat.


7  In addition, The Arts House will shine a spotlight on Nordic writing, with its own unique blend of darkness, lyricism and imagination. The SWF 2013 Nordic focus presents leading writers from the Nordic region such as author of thrillers Christian Jungersen and celebrated Norwegian novelist Roy Jacobsen. Other Nordic writers featured include poet and literary critic Aase Berg, as well as popular Icelandic author and lyricist Sjón, who has collaborated with celebrity artistes such as Bjork and The Sugarcubes.


Multi-lingual programming

8  Apart from the English programming, the SWF remains multi-lingual, with a strong line-up of Chinese, Malay and Tamil programmes. Some of the featured writers in these tracks include Ma Jian (UK-China), Dewi Lestari (Indonesia) and Rajathi Samsudeen (India), better known as Salma. The Festival will also feature SWF Conferences in both Chinese and Malay languages this year. This celebration of Singapore’s multi-lingual heritage will extend to our annual Literary Pioneer showcase – this year, the SWF will cast the spotlight on Thamizhavel G. Sarangapani, founder of our Tamil newspaper Tamil Murasu. SWF will also publish a bilingual chapbook on selective creative writing from leading Tamil writers, which first appeared in Tamil Murasu, to commemorate this occasion.


9  Ticketing details and updates are available on the Festival website at, or the SWF Facebook page at Festival Passes and tickets are available via SISTIC at and at Early bird sales begin on 2 September 2013 and will end on 2 October 2013.


10  For more information, please read on: