Circe by Madeline Miller – I read this book three times this year, that’s how good it is. Greek mythology + feminist retelling seems like an overdone formula but Miller really brings the characters to life.
The Adventures of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke – This was slow going at first because a lot of the first three hundred pages is devoted to solid world building.
Hoshimaruhon series by Wena Poon – A hilarious but still deeply moving trilogy that that is a bizarre landscape of East Asian tropes – think swordsmen training in the mountains, and fox spirits, and ninjas – and also a loving tribute to all of these things.
Gaze Back by Marylyn Tan – A lot has been written about how this book is obscene or taboo stomping. All true. It is also pushing at the boundaries of how we understand form and language in poetry. Go read it.
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik – For anyone who likes high fantasy. Devoured this 600+ page edition within a day because it was a story that was easy to swallow.
The Book of Lost Things by John Connelly – A fairytale for adults that like all fairytales uses a literal adventure as a metaphor for grief and change and growing up before you feel ready to. This is basically the kind of novel I want to write at some point in my life.
Pachinko by Min-Jin Lee – I first read this book in 2017 while on holiday in Japan and almost started crying in my tiny one-room Airbnb when my favourite character died. The book was no less brutal on the feels on a second read. This was probably my third book by a Korean author (the first two being Han Kang’s The Vegetarian and Human Acts) and was a complex family saga that spanned three generations which dealt with complexities of Korean-Japanese relations in the 20th century with so much grace and humanity. Highly recommended.
I’ve also been shockingly active on the publishing side. Besides releasing my book in June, I’ve been privileged enough to get accepted into most of the publications I’ve mustered up the energy to apply to. Some of the works listed below were actually listed in 2017 so I don’t really count them as it wasn’t effort put in this year, but still overall a good year despite the poor showing and effort in the last couple of months. Some days I keep beating myself up for not putting in as much effort into my writing as I feel I should; Facebook also likes to remind me that I was producing so much more poetry last year, especially in November and December, and that I am nowhere near the same levels of productivity. I think last year I was also really experimenting with subjects and voice while this year has largely been Angry Woman; while on one level I am glad I have finally embraced that voice (because for the longest time, anger was being emotionally vulnerable as I’m not used to showing it) I really hope to MOVE ON and write other topics soon.
Additionally, I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited to speak at events because people for some reason, are okay with hearing me talk, and also being able to read in foreign stages. The goal for 2019 is to keep doing it again, and submit my CV to various festivals overseas and hopefully get featured as a writer. When in London, someone told me after my set that I had made the world a little bit bigger for everyone else. This was probably the best bit of praise that I have received as a writer and is something that I really want to keep doing. There are so many stories to write and share and it would be a privilege to be a part of them.
Works Published/Accepted in 2018
‘Connect’ – My Lot is The Sky: An Anthology of Poems by Asian Women
Poem for my Breasts – Kindling Issue #5
Questions A Sheltered Singaporean Cannot Answer – Rambutan Literary Issue #6 (forthcoming)
and this too shall pass, a fistful of flowers, Night Whisper – Eunoia Review
Nasi Kang Kang – 3 July 2018 Quarterly Literary Review Singapore (should really be spelt ‘Nasi Kangkang’)
But If You Can’t Set His Balls On Fire The What Was The Point, The Stuff of Every Strapping Man’s Nightmares – SingPoWriMo 2018 anthology
how i know i love, Medusa – Oct 2018 Quarterly Literary Review Singapore
The Wives Poem, Cassandra is Every Woman Who Tried To Speak, Almost a Fairytale – New Reader Magazine Issue #4
Apples – The Fairy Tale Review Pink edition, also Runner Up in their poetry competition in 2018 (forthcoming)
The Wolf Isn’t The Only One in Human Clothing – Corvid Queen Jan 2019