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"We are all invariably defined by physical places that we occupy": Heartland Book Launch

 

Livestream of Heartland Launch

 

The book launch of Heartland  was livestreamed on the Ethos Books Facebook page on 25 September 2021. You can watch the livestream above and access the full transcript of the programme on this page. Portions of the transcript have been edited for clarity. 

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About Heartland (new edition) 

Hailed as “the definitive Singaporean novel”, this new edition of Heartland is accompanied by a new preface by author Daren Shiau and a publisher’s foreword that contextualises the novel’s imprint on the Singapore literary landscape since its first publication in 1999.

An iconic work, Heartland explores the paradox of rootedness and rootlessness in fast-changing Singapore. Set in the early 1990s, the novel follows the years of Wing Seng as he leaves school and is conscripted into full-time National Service. As Wing tries to reconcile his past with his future amid transitions through different phases of life, he finds meaning in his intense attachment to his surrounding landscape. Yet, as relationships and the years slip by, Wing is forced to question his own certainties and the wisdom of the people he values.

Set in Singapore’s heartland at the turn of the century, Heartland’s capturing of the texture of everyday life provides the backdrop essential to the bildungsroman’s exploration of identity, belonging and connection in an increasingly urbanised Singapore.
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You can find the author's bio at the bottom of this page. Enjoy the conversation! 

 

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Photo of the launch: Daren Shiau (left), Ng Kah Gay (right)
photo of heartland launch

 

Kah Gay: A very good morning to everyone, it's a very special day. Quite the first, because I have never relaunched a book in my capacity as a publisher, so I’m very happy to do that with Daren today. Welcome, Daren.

Daren: Thank you!

 

Kah Gay: Daren strikes me as a person who is a writer’s writer, because you see his works spanning from microfiction (Velouria), to poetry (Peninsular). And today we’re talking about Heartland which was launched in 1999.

So today we’ll love for you to enter this heart of Heartland, but to start things off, maybe we can have a look at certain photos that Daren has assembled for us.

 

Daren: I would also like to thank Ethos Books very much for this 2021 reissue of Heartland. This book actually takes 4 forms: the original one, then Ethos took it over in 2002, and then there was an academic issue in 2007 for O-levels. This is really a work of love; I’m very grateful to the team, the effort that was put in. There is additional content, and it’s very exciting.

Kah Gay: I mean, you guys at home can’t see what I’m seeing, but in this room now is the team who brought Heartland together, so the editors, marketing and promotion people, and there’s also one person outside of the room. So we are very well-supported. Thanks for coming together with us. So come, let’s have a look at some photos.
Daren actually has specific references in the book, so you’re going to see visuals at the moment, which will be a nice start.
 
bugis junk replica

 

Daren: So KG asked me about pictures that evoke the time that Heartland was written. I wrote it in my 20s and it was set in the ‘90s -- some things exist and some don’t anymore. This was the Bugis junk replica that was referred to in the beginning of the book, and Wing who has just been conscripted makes some observations about it, and it begins this process of linking history to the present. So this is the junk as it was then.

Kah Gay: When I walk past Bugis Junction, I can’t really imagine this.

 

Daren: The jet sprays that that scene (in the book) also refers to is still there.

fort canning park 1980s-1990s

 

Kah Gay: We are now looking at Fort Canning Park.

Daren: This was the Drama Center, and the Drama Center was the place where the characters performed a play. It brought some of the characters together. Fort Canning is also relevant because it’s talked about a few times, one of which was in the historical context.
It was fought over during different parts of Singapore’s history and at some point was the official residence of Sir Stamford Raffles, and this was the drama center which is now no longer there and instead is at the National Library.

 

Kah Gay: Interestingly, the disappearance of buildings will also be part of our conversation. This is Clementi, in the 1990s. 
 

clementi 1990s

 

Daren: This is where Audrey and Wing meet up in chapter two. It was a meeting place. This fountain also does not exist anymore.

aquarium in clementi in the 1990s

 

Kah Gay: Also Clementi, an aquarium in the late 1990s, so lovely to see.

Daren: The aquarium is referred to not in Clementi but in Marine Parade where Sham lives and there’s a scene where he’s looking at the fish in this wonderful fantasy world which links to Sang Nila Utama’s historical story that takes place in the sea, and a bit of the historical chapters which take place in the sea.

 

Kah Gay: For some of you who are not familiar with the story of Heartland, there’s a lot of history interspersed into that fiction. Holland Close?
 

holland close since the late 1960s

 

Daren: This is where Wing pays respects together with his mother. This still exists, but I think there’s plans for it to be removed.

world trade centre

 

Kah Gay: And the World Trade Centre?

Daren: Yeah, World Trade Centre is now Harbourfront. I think the relevance of the amphitheatre is that Wing attends a concert by his friend Joshua. There wasn’t very much to do in the ‘90s, and I was a big fan of indie/alternative music and local bands as well so I used to go to the amphitheatre to watch live performances. 

 

Kah Gay: And it would be outdoors?

Daren: It would be outdoors. I believe it is no longer there.


equatorial hotel

 

Kah Gay: And also the Equatorial Hotel, no longer there?

Daren: Yep. This is where Wing meets Chloe’s parents; Chloe comes from a posh background and Wing was working class. He also arrived late which made him a bit more stressed. It used to be something that defined that part, that junction. It’s gone.

 

holland drive 1970s-1980s

 

Kah Gay: Holland Drive; as I understand, your childhood was in Queenstown?

Daren: Yeah, I grew up in the Queenstown/Commonwealth area, working class family. I often walked past this swimming pool in Holland Drive and there’s a setting in the book which references this pool. I never thought it would go away, but it’s been demolished and there’s going to be more built over it.

 

Kah Gay: Interestingly, you also shared with us these photos.

elliptical slabs in HDB carparks

 

Daren: Yeah so there is a scene where Chloe gets upset with Wing because her heels get caught in these elliptical holes in carpark slates, which is meant actually for grass to thrive. This is also where she had to visit the coffeeshop toilet, and being the posh girl that she is, was very disgusted by that. 

I think toilets, if we remember in the ‘80s and ‘90s in coffeeshops, were quite different from what they are right now, and this was actually the frivolous reason why they broke up.

 

Kah Gay: I think we’re very thankful for some personal photos from Daren. 

east coast chalet

 

Daren: So East coast park chalet which used to be a whole thing, I think now it’s Downtown East. There’s a scene here where Wing attends a friend’s gathering, and teens having barbecues at ECP was a common occurrence. He also has a moment where he walks towards the sea and has these thoughts. It was also the countdown to the New Year, it was New Year’s Eve.

Kah Gay: Some very nostalgic spots too.

 

old post boxese at tanglin halt

 

Daren: There are references to postmen and postboxes, and the clicking sound, the way that things were inserted, again very different in the past. Now, postmen open the back and slotting has changed. 

Kah Gay: Time has increased in pace, we don’t see people doing one box by one box anymore. And Marina South?

 

marina south super bowl

Daren: So Marina South was again very different—there’s a scene where Wing goes for the $10 steamboat buffet that we remembered with May Ling and her friends. Also very iconic at the time.

toa payoh playground

 

Daren: This famous dragon playground occurs in the book when Wing visits Joshua who has got kidney failure and Wing looks down from the corridor and his perspective of the dragon was not so much the head that we often think about but the skeletal coil of the body which reminded Wing of the state that Joshua was in—he was emaciated.

 

old buses, phonecards, pagers and old public phones
 
Kah Gay: A few snapshots of items that I still remember. The orange phone.
 
Daren: Public phones appear in various parts of the story; so does the pager, I think we’ll come to that. This change has made Heartland a story where if it was written three years later, it would have taken a very different form. Because these things all got phased out at about the same time.

 

Kah Gay: Fortunately, they were still around then. Okay, I feel like that was a lot of photos, that I feel stimulated by a lot of memories, because we were born in the same decade.

Daren: Yeah we’re both Gen X-ers.

 

Kah Gay: Yeah, so I’m very pleased to be able to have this chat with you, and I think what I have gained so far right, if you have not read Heartland, is that the central person is a person called Wing, and I think Heartland also drew a lot from Daren’s imaginative landscape.

And this landscape is one that I would venture to say is founded in place. Which is why I felt, how beautiful, thanks so much Daren for the photos that you showed. I really would love to get you to talk more about place.

 

Because place in any piece of writing can be very incidental; it’s like a setting that happens to be there. But I find place in Heartland more than just that. It seems to inform and shape the identity of the characters. I am very curious to hear you talk more about place and how physical space defines us, how the architecture that we see around us, how that works. And when you were writing Heartland, what was the significance of place in yourself?

Daren: Well, some of it can be explained by the fact that the book originally took the form of a series of poems called Heartland. It was shortlisted for the 1995 SLP (Singapore Literature Prize); at that time it was for unpublished fiction, and later I think we’ll go through the titles of some of the poems. Every single poem there is about a specific scene in the heartland. Place, first and foremost, is the basis on which the plot was then written in.

 

Place is extremely important because the book is an… I see it as an existential novel. It is about a protagonist trying to make sense of his place in space and time. I think we are all invariably defined by physical places that we occupy. Architecture, where we live, where we stay, where we grew up. We tend to be defined by that. But also chronological space where we happen to be born, which point in time..to me, there’s a randomness to the place/space that you eventually occupy. It’s the nature of human beings to seek meaning in randomness, and one of the ways I think people do it is to attach to what is familiar. I think it goes beyond nostalgia, there’s actually a comfort with familiarity and return.

Kah Gay: You’re attaching that to place, the familiarity with place?

 

Daren: Even if, say, you go to Bangkok once a year, you very quickly develop, although there’s so much to see, develop rituals associated to a place that you will go to.

People will say “oh, we always have these noodles on a certain day at this particular place”. Why, is it because it’s the best? No, because place is a way in which we attach meaning to our lives. 

 

Kah Gay: It’s so interesting because just now when you were showing us some photos, invariably it brings a smile to some of us when we see it. So this very subconscious kind of attachment; I find very interesting because I have not been to the swimming pool (shown in the slides), but when I see it, I have a sense of familiarity.

Daren: I think that particularly in Singapore, place has an even more important quality, over and above what I’m saying about how we find meaning by attaching special feelings to where we live, where we grow up. And that is the invariable anonymity of public housing, and that's not limited to Singapore. I think you see this in the UK in council housing.

Every country has public housing and there is a certain sameness necessary because you’re trying to put as many homes as possible in the same space. I mean, when we think about what represents Singapore, most people would say MBS (Marina Bay Sands), Changi Airport, Botanical Gardens. But actually what occupies most of the land is our ubiquitous HDB flats and it’s really interesting because I like routinous architecture, and I think the origins of HDB flats were routinous in nature and I think we’re now starting to appreciate the different states which although looking similar have developed their own personalities/characters of their own.

 

Kah Gay: I think what I really want to follow up on is I want to look at the poems later if we can, because that’s the origin of Heartland the novel, which I think is quite amazing. And I didn’t know until recently, because of our chats, that Heartland arose from poetry, so we must look at that.

Another thing you mentioned was the existential novel as reference in your mind. I really like how you described the existential novel when we were talking last, like the existential novel asks the question, are we all great with life?

 

So it’s really about how we understand daily experience, how we make sense of daily experience. I wonder for you: how did life and living in Singapore shape how you did Heartland as a novel?

Daren: I think that my first novel was always going to be an existential novel—it’s partly to do with my own philosophy to life, and also the writers I was reading at the time; Albert Camus’ The Stranger, Jean Paul Sartre, Goh Poh Seng.... there’s often this question that’s asked, why is Wing this antihero who achieves nothing? And why is he so aimless? 

 

Kah Gay: Yes, we hear that a lot. 

photo of launch
photo of launch: Daren Shiau (left), Ng Kah Gay (right)

 

Daren: That actually tends to be the persona of the existential characters who are searching. Because of free will, they want to understand what their existence means and therefore people deal with it by coming up with religions, rituals, beliefs, causes even, to attribute meaning. Wing’s not interested in any of these things, so he comes across as not having that kind of direction. Now to your specific question about Singapore. As I said, my first novel was always going to be an existential one. 

Singapore is also unique for me growing up because things were very slow. There was not much happening, and therefore the search for something can have meaning to someone who is searching for it. I think it was different; less accessible than it is now -- I think now, one can pick up interests, find groups of people to share interests with, and make it a part of their lives. In Singapore there was less to do, and I also think that when trying to search for meaning, what is important is also the history from which we emerge. 

 

And I always thought that Singapore lacks a physical hinterland as well as a chronological hinterland. What do I mean by this? I think that the same person Wing growing up in... say a country that has centuries of history. Somehow, when he asks himself the question of “who am I in this place and time?”, the location of himself in that, I think it’s an easier answer to arrive at when you have a short chronological hinterland to draw from. The physical hinterland, if you drive in any direction in Singapore for forty minutes, you land in the sea. 

And there’s a scene in Heartland where Wing is trying to escape and is driving to nowhere and he ends up in the sea—he goes to the beach, he washes his face. So I think these are the unique circumstances that make a search for identity for individuals in Singapore different. Not necessarily more challenging, but different. 

Kah Gay: I like the sense of place and how it informs the sense of self I'm getting from what you’re saying. To me, when i read Heartland for the first time, it spoke to a very private/personal part of me - because it’s about growing out of. So it’s only just like you mentioned, why are some people thinking, ah why is this hero not doing much? Maybe we’re just used to people doing a lot, because of how times have moved on. I’m so glad you bookmarked this particular period of Singapore history when before the internet and all this communication, things were not really moving that fast. 

 

Daren: Yeah and I mean before, we must remember that HDB was a massive relocation project. And that before that people were living in kampongs and the way people related to each other was different. HDB then put people into apartments. But what you mentioned, KG, about the advent of technology, I think it actually accentuated someone who is seeking purpose. If someone like Wing growing up in the ‘90s already had difficulty finding purpose, I imagine that now someone growing up who has all the information that they want to accessSuddenly choices are accessible, but that also makes things more difficult.

Simply put, when we were growing up, there was less to choose from, which probably made choices a little bit easier. The technology.. I think probably the singular most interesting thing about Heartland being written when it was written was that it was at the cusp of the Internet. So if you think about the characters, only one (Sham) had a dial-up modem. And in those days when you used the Internet you couldn't use the phone. Only some kids had phones but they were very rudimentary, and I think it was more to show off, so there were some kids in Orchard Road who had it. It was not really a device people had and found useful.  

 

Pagers did exist, but the way that you reached out to someone was primarily through the landline. And there’s various scenes in the book where characters try to reach out to each other and they fail. The public phone we saw just now - you must have 10 cents and remember the number of the person you’re calling. You must hope that the person is in, or someone picks up the phone and you have just three minutes to speak. I remember in those days that if I had made arrangements to meet someone at the MRT station, and they were late for an hour, I would call the home and someone from their family would say “he’s left the house”. I would have no other options but to wait. 

So the characters eventually drift apart; there was always going to be a sense of anomie and ennui given that it’s an existential novel. But technology played a big part in the fragmentation of those relationships. If this same set of friends were to be acquainted today, there are multiple forms of connection, perhaps too many. But I don’t want to discuss how over-connectedness is bad. I want to say that it was totally normal to be under-connected and you literally had to visit people, phone them, and when you’re outside, use the public phone. The ability to lose touch and for relationships to break down was very real.

 

Kah Gay: Let’s delve into your poetry a bit, because I’m really curious about where the architecture of Heartland came from. Was this the manuscript that you submitted for the 1995 SLP prize?

Daren: It was. 

 

Kah Gay: So I’m going to read a few titlesI had the pleasure of looking at the poems before this, so I'm not going to pretend 'oh it's so new to me!'I had known but I feel that it's very relevant. 

So if I read a few titlesDaren, I feel that it’s not a bad time to read a poem that you may want to read that is relevant to Heartland, and you’re not spoiling the book for anyone. I’m looking at the contents page. It says Opening: Morning on Hillock, that’s the first poem.

(reads from Heartland poetry collection) 
Chapter 1: Lian, the Chinese character for ‘face’. Rubbish Collector, Pai Kia, which is Hokkien for ‘bad son’, Elders, Filipino Maids, Grass Cutter, Otak-seller, Postman, Bladers, Resident One: Louis Vuitton Girl, Resident Two: Truck Driver, Resident Three: Junior College Girl, Resident Four: Uncle. Mao, which is Chinese for ‘cat’. Ai Ren which is Chinese for ‘lover’. Crows, Youths.

 

Chapter 2: Di, which is the Chinese character for ‘earth’, Three-room Flat Corridor. Interchange. Kopitiam, which is coffeeshop in Hokkien. Hairdresser. Neighbourhood Dialysis Centre. Playground. Cinema. 25th Floor. Wet Market. Feeling like a housing estate. The page continues into: Benches, Community Centre, POSB, Library, Vacant Plot, Provision Shop (Indian), Provision Shop (Chinese)mama shops come in different formsDeadend. Swimming Pool. Kindergarten.

Chapter 3: Shi, which is ‘things’, or ‘business’. Hungry Ghost Festival. August the 9th. Deepavali. NS Send-off. Qing Ming, which is the day when you go to sweep the grave, for the Chinese. Election Day. Karaoke. Washing Day.

Chapter 4: Ming, ‘fate’ or ‘life’ in Chinese. 6pm. Motorcycles. Yu, which is Chinese for ‘rain’. Night, which is a lovely poem, very short but lovely.

Closing: Evening on Hillock. When I read this I have the sense that it’s very distinctively Chinese as well, so I feel that that’s  probably also a reference to your roots. So maybe you could share a bit about this collection.

 

Daren: I am Wing, to a certain extent—I was really trying to find meaning, not successful at that time, but I had an intense emotional attachment to my landscape—all these scenes are descriptions of these very things. They didn’t have necessarily a higher purpose other than to take a micro look at these distinctive phenomena in a heartland. And to string it together into something coherent, and hence it starts with Morning on Hillock, Evening on Hillock. For those of you who have read Heartland the novel, practically everything in here is represented as a setting for the characters.

There’s a postman, there is a scene about rain, there is the interchange, the dialysis centre, the kopitiam, the 25th floor, the wet market. The swimming pool, of course, Hungry Ghost festival, the NS send off, motorcycles, the noisy guys. And so the creation was interesting because I already had all these places, and instead of the usual way in which books are written where you come up with a plot and the places become incidental. Here the plot was incidental. 

 

Kah Gay: I just wanted to express a response to that, because it’s very moving to feel your connection to the place. In the end I felt more for Wing’s feeling for the place than Wing the character. So maybe that's how you can enjoy the novel without enjoying the character. 

Daren: That is a very good point. Heartland often gets conflated with what’s called the HDB-Core art happening around that time. Some of my friends had contemporaneously created work that had the heartland as a setting. So I think of friends like Eric Khoo, of Jasmine (Ng) who created Eating Air, Dave (Khoo), Gone Case, Alfian (Sa’at), Corridor

What was unique then was that, it wasn’t contrived. In fact, until HDB-core happened, it was unexplored territory. People weren't actively writing about HDB as is, or using it as a setting. It’s different from what I consider now the inevitable jostle to be included in the Merlion canon by having a Merlion poem, everyone needs to have a Merlion poem. It wasn’t that; it just happened that way, particularly for Heartland… more than the setting, it ultimately became the purpose for Wing, who is searching for meaning. (He) doesn't eventually find it but he realises that actually his attachment to where he lived and the familiarity is good enough for him.

 

Kah Gay: I would like to get you to maybe read a poem, if you have one.

Daren: Would you like to pick one?

 

Kah Gay: Oh, if you asked me to pick, it’s either Morning at Hillock or Night.

Daren: I’ll read Morning at Hillock, which has a companion piece in the novel. All of them are companion pieces because they all, as I said, feature as scenes in Heartland.
(Daren reads Morning at Hillock

 

Kah Gay: Thank you so much. I really like when you just describe things as they are, there’s a certain power to it—you don’t even have to embellish it; of course hackneyed is quite a cheem word, but it’s a very down-to-earth representation of it. I can even imagine boxes with people living inside. 

Daren: And from the novel, there are many instances where Wing feels lost and sad and he goes to different parts of the estate. The 25th floor, which is also a poem in this collection, is a place he likes to go to. And so from the novel...
(Daren reads from Heartland
And then he has further reflections about it but I think from there you can see certain things that you’d recognise from Morning on Hillock.

 

Kah Gay: I think we will definitely release the link to NORA (National Online Repository of the Arts), which is where your poems are freely available. That is a very nice compendium to the novel, and I think will really make the reading experience even more enjoyable. I feel that place is really the star of the novel. We’ve had some chats before this. And I like the phrase you used, “architecture of the heart” and “architecture of the externalities.” But we do have a few interesting questions here, and I think we can move to the Q&A. 

If you were to rewrite Heartland today, what would be the main difference?

 

Daren: Interesting. I think at its core, it would still be an antihero trying to find his purpose—technology is probably going to make it harder for him to find his purpose. The challenges will be different, but I still think that I would want Wing to ultimately find his purpose in the physical environment in which he lives. I would also retain the references to the historical chapters—just a quick note on that there are hard cuts in the novel that go back to the history of Singapore, starting from Sang Nila Utama. 

There’s no attempt to explain the links between the contemporary and the historical, but that’s intentional; that's how Milan Kundera does it as well. And actually the reason that I did that is because history is circuitous. People, civilisations come about, they make mistakes, they heal, and then they make the same mistakes again. People change but places don’t change as fast as people do—the same places that were fought over in Singapore are still here. Huge events, world events; the people have changed, mistakes have been remade, but the places—most of them are still there. So imagining the past and the present where the place is still in our midst, I think that’s very interesting, including the place we’re in now, The Arts House.

 

Kah Gay: Which also used to be the site of the first law court. Maybe we can also take a look at the next question, “You mention Heartland as an existential novel quite often; how do you think writers or works in recent years have tackled this theme in this climate?”

I suppose climate refers to this time in history, the prevailing mood, the values. And also recommendations for existential novels. Okay guys existential novels can create a bit of depression, so my suggestion is to mix it up with something lighthearted. 

 

Daren: I think that there was a specific period during which existential novels were original in the same way that I’m referring to HDB-core as not being something contrived. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Goh Poh Seng wrote “If We Dream Too Long” within the same period of time that Albert Camus and Jean Paul Sartre were writing.

Ultimately it comes down to philosophical questions about purpose, meaning of life; if there is no meaning and everything is absurd, how do we deal with that? That was a very postmodern development. I don’t think that people or writers necessarily approached writing self-consciously as an existential novel now. I thought that when I did it it was still okay, but existential novels as a category I think is probably not a label that new writers would attach themselves to. 

 

Kah Gay: So I guess the label would be located in that period of time, but maybe the preoccupations would still be extended, but they would need to find a new metaphor or new category. How about any recommendations? 

Daren: I can’t think of any recommendations right now but if you follow me on my new  Instagram page I promise you that I will put up some recommendations (@darenshiauwriter)

 

Kah Gay: We will take one last question: “Despite the current connectivity of society today, fragmented relationships are still very much pervasive today, Why do you think this is so?”

It’s a bit of a counselling question, which I like! I find that the novel at the end should fill you with certain ideas, and I hope it’s towards light.

 

Daren: My starting point is that I think that human beings and relationships are first and foremost predisposed to fragmentation. We live life in fragments and there is a fragility to wholeness. How often is it that something is complete and whole; it probably is for a short time after which fragmentation happens—yes, I think fragmentation does happen now. I think it’s because it is so much easier. 

Relationships can be formed so much more quickly. You add someone on social media, you get their number and you Whatsapp. It used to be so difficult to get people’s number in the past—you’d have to jump through hoops to get the number. These days it’s “what’s your Facebook”, “add me on Whatsapp”. Because the establishment of relationships is so simple, the breaking of it is also easy. So if someone does not like another person, they ghost that person, and that is gone. 

Also, I think people have a lot more relationships now at different levels of intensity, and so there’s less deeper connections. And losing some of these connections doesn’t mean as much as what it was before. I like to think of fragmentation in the past as being slow cracks that eventually lead to collapse. I think fragmentation now is something that takes place instantaneously—we form relationships very quickly and lose them also very quickly. And maybe the pain that is associated with it is also of a different type of quality. The way we form memories in the past is also different from how memories are forged today.

 

Kah Gay: I like the nuancing of fragmentation then and now. I think it’s a very realist perception of how wholeness is fragile, but at the same time I do feel that after reading Heartland I value that memory, I value that connection. So in spite of the difficulty, Wing, I hope for his brighter future, which is off the pages; we do not know what’s going on with Wing now 25 years on. It has been a wonderful day hearing from you, Daren, thank you so much. And to the readers, you have asked very unique questions; and to my team and the Arts House and our guests, thank you so much. 

Daren: Thank you. 
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About the Author: 

Daren Shiau was born in 1971, and is a Singaporean writer and editor. Heartland received the Singapore Literature Prize Commendation Award in 1998, and in 2007 was adapted into an English literature school text on the Singapore-Cambridge GCE ‘O’-Level syllabus. The novel was also made into a telemovie in 2015. A recipient of the Young Artist Award (Literature), Shiau’s other works include acclaimed poetry collection, Peninsular: Archipelagos and Other Islands (2000) and a microfiction collection, Velouria (2007). He currently serves as Co-Chair of the Singapore Writers Festival’s advisory panel.   

 

Purchase Heartland (new edition) here: