edited by Quah Sy Ren and Hee Wai Siam
translated by Tan Dan Feng
Featuring new translations of previously untranslated Chinese short
stories, Memorandum maps out seven decades of Sinophone Singaporean Literature. From bargirls to student activists, from trishaw men to tea merchants, this collection provides a glimpse into a world that has been previously invisible to Anglophone readers. Paired with critical essays, these stories showcase the richness and diversity of Singapore’s Chinese community, but also its inherent interconnectedness with other cultures within Singapore.
About the Editors
Quah Sy Ren is Associate Professor of Chinese at the School of Humanities, Nanyang Technological University. His research interests include literary and cultural studies, theatre and performance studies, and Singapore studies. He is the author of Scenes: A History of Singapore Chinese Language Theatre 1913-2013, Keywords: Literary Terms for Chinese Literary Study, and Gao Xingjian and Transcultural Chinese Theatre. He is also general editor of The Complete Works of Kuo Pao Kun.
Hee Wai Siam is Associate Professor of Chinese at the School of Humanities, Nanyang Technological University. His main research areas are on the Cultural studies, Sinophone studies and Chinese literature. He is the author of Remapping the Sinophone: The Cultural Production of Chinese-language Cinema in Singapore and Malaya Before and During the Cold War, Post-Malaysian Chinese-language Film: Accented Style, Sinophone and Auteur Theory, and From Amorous Histories to Sexual Histories: Tongzhi Writings and the Construction of Masculinities in Late Qing and Modern China.
About the Translator
Tan Dan Feng has been involved in translation since 1993. He is co-founder of The Select Centre, a not-for-profit organisation shortlisted for the London Book Fair International Excellence Awards for Best Literary Translation Initiative. He is actively involved in the translation and publishing scene in Asia and was a member of the Program Committee of the 8th Asia Pacific Translation and Interpreting Forum. He has taught translation at various levels. His latest published work is Living in Babel: Singapore Literature in Translation (Canopy, 2017).
"This comprehensive and definitive collection of Sinophone Singaporean short stories is now translated into English, making it available to the Anglophone readers around the world. It offers a long-overdue tribute to the vibrancy and creativity of Sinophone literature in Singapore that has a history of over one hundred years, and corrects the mistaken view that only Anglophone literature is of consequence in and out of the former British colony."
—Shu-mei Shih, Professor of Comparative Literature, University of California, Los Angeles, and President-Elect of American Comparative Literature Association
“Memorandum is a pathbreaking anthology that refracts over half a century of Singapore’s history through its lens. The translated stories do much more than simply bridge Sinophone and Anglophone worlds: they actively cross geographical, cultural, linguistic and class boundaries, causing us to think more deeply about the nature of social power, and the transformative interventions literary texts can make.”
—Philip Holden, scholar of Singapore & Southeast Asian literatures
“The reader’s curiosity about Singapore Chinese literature will be sated by this ample survey of fiction spanning eight decades. From accounts of cultural displacement in “scar literature”, to stories about dance hostesses, coolies and sailors, to experimental prose born out of the encounter between Chinese and other languages, the stories here reveal the breadth of subject matter barely touched by English literature in Singapore. To read this collection is to experience a world being unveiled in front of one’s eyes, a world that has been hiding in plain sight."
—Alfian Sa’at, playwright and writer
"A thoroughly enjoyable collection of short stories. If not for such worthwhile translations, many like myself would not have access to large and meaningful collections of creative writings by fellow Singaporean writers. This exquisitely curated anthology opens a window into the richness of Chinese language fiction over seven decades. It’s my wish that more Singapore writings get translated into other different, and just as valuable, languages."
—Haresh Sharma, Resident Playwright, The Necessary Stage
"The translated literary works that appear in Memorandum offer important testimonies to the multifarious idea of what “home” meant to the “Chinese” in Singapore. The complexities of class, culture, and language that emerge from the stories – Chinese topolects intersecting with a state- sanctioned standard(ised) Chinese, and also with the other languages of the country, indicating a plurilingualism linked with varied levels of intercultural competence – muddy up, in a positive way, what it means to speak about a single and/or singular “dominant” Chinese component in Singapore. This volume, at the very least, indicates the need to have a longer-range view of cultural identity in Singapore if we are to truly appreciate our complex and diverse multicultures."
—C. J. W.-L. Wee, Professor of English, Nanyang Technological University
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Dimension: 148mm x 210mm