3 Fresh book releases, including Singapore’s latest horror fiction

16 September, 2020
Singapore's latest books, including horror fiction Fear of the Guest

Photos: Marshall Cavendish (left) and Math Paper Press (right)

Unsure of what to do during the Hungry Ghost Festival? Take a closer look at Singapore through the eyes of “disrupted ghosts” trying to stay relevant in an evolving landscape, and contemplate local poetry and history. The Straits Times reported three fresh releases by NUS FASS alumni in ‘Singapore Shelf: 6 fresh releases, including novel that features disrupted ghosts and SkillsFuture courses’.

The first, Fear of the Guest, is by Yihan Sim (NUS Philosophy graduate). As someone who watches horror movies, Yihan reverses the gaze in her book to look at humans through the ghosts’ eyes. Besides embracing lifelong learning, the ghosts form grassroots committees of their own, organising themselves to extend their terrors onto the urban landscape. The Grassroots Committee is chaired by the Pontianak, the most terrifying ghost in South-east Asian folklore, who resembles a retired air stewardess when she is not out hunting. Other characters include the Chinese jiangshi (vampire), the singing female ghost who spooks Pulau Tekong recruits, and an unexpected guest who threatens to wipe out Singapore. For Yihan, xenophobia is reflected by the prejudices within ghost stories and the horror genre that encompasses the history of human fear. Lightheartedly themed, her novel brings out the local flavours of xenophobia.

The second is a chapbook titled Animal Season, authored by local poet Cyril Wong (NUS English Language and Literature graduate). Animal Season explores, confronts, and destabilises the supposed universal truths of society, affirmed by fables which Cyril Wong find unsatisfactory in a world potentially without grand design or meaning. His book looks into Aesops Fables, a collection credited to Aesop, a slave and storyteller from ancient Greece. From where familiar fables left off, Animal Season interrogates the originals, and rewrites them with the intention of discovering new insights.

Lastly, VoyageursExplorateurs et Scientifiques is a non-fiction book authored by Martyn Low, Kate Pocklington and Dr Jusoh Wan, researchers at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum. It documents France’s two centuries of scientific contribution to Singapore’s natural history, since the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819. The book is filled with stories and records of French explorers, naturalists, diplomats, traders, counts, and countesses. It celebrates the history of collaboration between France and Singapore.

Read the Straits Times article here.

Check out Yihan Sim’s Fear of the Guest here. Explore Cyril Wong’s Animal Season here. Read VoyageursExplorateurs et Scientifiques for free.