Singapore’s Writer’s Festival 2019

This years Singapore Writer’s Festival (SWF) is the island’s 22nd edition, welcoming a brand new theme this year, A Language of Our Own.  It is based around the idea of language informing identity and community in an increasingly globalised and yet fractured world. New festival director, Pooja Nansi and her team have created this year’s offering around a very relevant theme, which references not only the festival’s last three years but also Singapore’s three official languages; Malay, Tamil and Chinese.  SWF 2019 will also explore Singlish and other forms of dialogue, such as emojis and how forms of communication can build a sense of belonging or foster exclusion.  

Festival Director Pooja Nansi and Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth at the opening ceremony of Singapore Writers Festival 2019

Pooja Nansi explained the significance of the theme, ‘Language allows us to navigate through an increasingly complex and multi faceted world.  This year’s theme invites audiences to reflect how language can be used to rethink existing social models and evolve to accommodate the changing tides of our present.  We hope to spark conversations around the importance of language in the formation of our sense of self and community, and in turn, how language can foster a more inclusive society in a culturally and linguistically diverse Singapore.’

Author Roxane Gay in Coleman Hall on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois on January 31, 2014. (Jay Grabiec)

SWF is one of Asia’s premier literary events which showcases both local as well as talent from across the globe. Its programme usually attracts some of the best local and international writers and this year is no exception.  Some of the heavyweight international authors that feature are the incredible American writer Roxanne Gay, author of the New York Times best seller, Bad Feminist, Jamaican sensation Marlon James, author of Man Booker Prize winner A Brief History of Seven Killings.  Also headlining are Korean author Min Jin Lee, author of Free Food for Millionaires and UK essayist and novellist, Pico Iyer, who regularly writes for the New York Times and Harper’s. 

Min Jin Lee, credit Elena Seibert

As well as welcoming international talent, this years overarching theme encompasses several other important contemporary considerations such as feminism, in the all female line up for the unmissable Festival Debate. Cross-cultural collaboration runs through the programme and the medium of technology provides a different experience through a collaboration with Kult studio and gallery on an installation.

The festival is open now until 10th November 2019 across various venues in the civic district of Singapore.  For ticketing and programs, please follow the link here.  For an insiders look at the opening of this years festival, you can read Artspositive’s Debasmita Dasgupta’s opening night experience here.  You can read our interview with SWF festival Director Pooja Nansi here or more of our artists interviews and blogposts here.

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