UNION : 15 Years of Drunken Boat, 50 Years of Writing From Singapore


UNION traces the intertwining trajectories of two dynamic communities: the cosmopolitan Southeast Asian city-state of Singapore, commemorating 50 years of national independence and writing, to celebrated literary journal Drunken Boat, marking 15 years as one of the most innovative and inclusive literary platforms in the US and the world. This groundbreaking anthology brings together for the very first time a spectrum of diverse voices at play with language and its inventive possibilities — from prominent Singaporean authors such as Alfian bin Sa’at, Suchen Christine Lim and Edwin Thumboo to American Pulitzer Prize winners Norman Mailer, Franz Wright, Kay Ryan, and Vijay Seshadri.

In math, union is a shared set and in textiles union is a yarn made of two fabrics. In proof and stitch, this anthology invites connection and conversation on matters of timeless interest and global concern.

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UNION : 15 Years of Drunken Boat, 50 Years of Writing From Singapore

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“In the essay 'In Praise of Error', gathered in Union: 15 Years of Drunken Boat, 50 Years of Writing from Singapore, Cole Swensen writes, '[D]on’t look to translations to bridge cultural gaps.' Well, where translation fails, this anthology succeeds. What a marvel its editors, Alvin Pang and Ravi Shankar, have produced. What resonances, what juxtapositions, (what peaches, what penumbras)—what bridges! At one hundred twenty-nine entries, spread over six hundred pages, Union bridges oceans, genres, poetics, and eras in fresh, vital ways. To wit: dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson’s eulogy for Bernie Grant, Singaporean poet Alfian bin Sa’at’s howl, “Singapore You Are Not My Country”; Paul Stephens’s assessment of Billy Collins, Jee Leong Koh’s reinvention of The Pillow Book. The entries from Drunken Boat showcase the journal’s cutting edge aesthetics. The entries from Singapore demonstrate the nation’s place, to paraphrase Somerset Maugham, in the theater of first-rate writing: the very front row. Together, they form an essential volume that successfully translates the global moment, and provides a bridge readers will delight in crossing.” —Tim Tomlinson, President of New York Writers Workshop

“While geographically themed anthologies often suffer from a lack of cohesion between texts beyond their place of origin, Union interrogates this model by situating Singaporean writing in a wider yet ultimately more intricate framework of cultural polyphony across hemispheres and borders. ... It is preferable to read the likes of Kim Cheng Boey, Catherine Lim, and Mohamed Latiff Mohamed in a global context, and particularly alongside Drunken Boat ’s far-reaching collection of works, from Ko Un and Vijay Seshadri to Kay Ryan and Norman Mailer. ... The anthology can also be commended for its inclusion of experimental texts, like the visual poetics of Rachel Blau DuPlessis, as well as a vast number of translated works. It is testament to Union’s editorial curation that, despite the diplomatic arrangement of its contents (alphabetically by author), it is replete with meaningful juxtapositions that could otherwise seem intentional. ... Union acknowledges the intricacies of identity – infinitely fluid across borders and not simply defined, even by diasporic lines. It is this innate recognition of the many and varied loci of identity by which we can define ourselves that renders the anthology such a success.” —Sara Savage, Australian Book Review


Alvin Pang, Ravi Shankar