Monday, 30 October 2006

The Great Singaporean Novel.

David Leo takes a look at Singaporean lit and wonders whether they can ever come up with a Great Singaporean Novel:
But before we - in typical Singaporean manner - rush to start on a blueprint of production- line initiatives and targets, let's be mindful that this cannot be a completely objective-driven task.

What is important is the creation of space for writers to find their niche, grow and excel.

Asked what he thought would go into the making of that much-touted but still elusive Great Singapore Novel, a publisher answered with a question: What makes Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind a great American novel? Or John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, or J D Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye?

Clearly, they all breathe America. In the same vein, the works of many great Irish writers, such as Roddy Doyle's Paddy Clarke Ha! Ha! Ha! and Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes, are unmistakably Irish in soul.

Too many of our local works, though well written, do not exude the Singapore breath and breadth of life. They could be works produced of any place. Except for the names of the characters and a sprinkling of Singlish, they are almost un-identifiable in that respect.
Do we have any Malaysian novels exude the breath and breadth of Malaysian life? And exactly how do we identify a "Malaysian" novel anyway? If a novel is written in Malay and concerns mostly Malay characters, is that truly "Malaysian"?

Via the Literary Saloon.


  1. Singapore already HAS The Great Singapore Novel - Vyvyane Loh's "Breaking The Tongue".

  2. Good point! I like the Literary Saloon's choice of Saint Jack though! :D

  3. Oh...never read that though I did see the movie of it. Starred Denholm Elliot.

  4. For me, I would rather aim to write a good novel instead of just a good Malaysian novel that is believed to be good more for its showcasing of sheer nationalism than its real artistic merits.

  5. thanks for finding this ted, ... though where does david leo come into the picture? the article is by Liang Dingzi

    will read it and come back later

  6. oh i get it. pen name.

    btw saint jack is a v. good book. should read, ted. it was banned in singapore for a long time.

  7. Whoops! Bad blogging on my part. Should've made that clear. This is a quote from the bottom of the article:
    "The writer, a management consultant, is a published author under the name David Leo."

  8. Haha! You commented at the same time! Shall read it if I can find it.


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