Join us for the opening night of the Singapore Literary Festival! Racial/ethnic identifications are seen as visible, whereas sexual preferences are deemed otherwise. How do writers make visible, or not, such identifications and preferences, and why do they do so? Award-winning Singaporean authors and playwrights Alfian Sa’at and Ovidia Yu will join New York-based writers Naomi Jackson and Jason Koo in a special reading and discussion the invisibilities and visibilities of race and gender. Moderated by Jennifer Hayashida. Reception and book signing after the event.
The event is co-presented by Hunter College’s English Department and Asian American Studies Program.
Alfian Sa’at is a Resident Playwright with W!LD RICE, one of Singapore’s most recognized theater companies. Alfian has been nominated eight times for Best Original Script at the Life! Theatre Awards, winning in 2005 for Landmarks, in 2010 for Nadirah, and in 2013 for Kakak Kau Punya Laki (Your Sister’s Husband). In 2011, Alfian was awarded the Boh-Cameronian Award in Malaysia for Best Book and Lyrics for the musical The Secret Life of Nora. In 2013, he won the Boh-Cameronian Award for Best Original Script for the play Parah. His published works include three collections of poetry, One Fierce Hour, A History of Amnesia and The Invisible Manuscript, a collection of short stories, Corridor, a collection of flash fiction, Malay Sketches, two collections of plays as well as the published play Cooling Off Day. In 2001, Alfian won the Golden Point Award for Poetry as well as the National Arts Council Young Artist Award for Literature.
Ovidia Yu has had over thirty plays produced in Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, including The Woman In A Tree On The Hill, which won an Edinburgh Fringe First, and Hitting (On) Women, which won the Audience Award and Singapore’s Life! Theatre Awards Best Original Script. Ovidia has received the National Arts Council Young Artist Award (Drama and Fiction), the Singapore Youth Award (Arts and Culture), and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) Singapore Foundation Award for outstanding contribution to the development of arts. She received a Fulbright Scholarship to the University of Iowa’s International Writing Programme and spent three months at the Toji Cultural Centre Residency writing her first children’s book. The Mudskipper, about a mixed race child exploring her Singapore roots, a runner-up for the inaugural Scholastic Asia Book Award and a finalist for the Hedwig Anwar Book Prize the same year. Her murder mysteries Aunty Lee’s Delights (2013), Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials (2014), and Aunty Lee’s Chilled Revenge (2016) all feature a kiasu, kaypoh, em zai si crime-solving cook.
Naomi Jackson is the author of The Star Side of Bird Hill, which was longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize and nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Jackson studied fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and traveled to South Africa on a Fulbright scholarship, where she received an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town. A graduate of Williams College, her work has appeared in literary journals and magazines in the United States and abroad. She is the recipient of residencies from the University of Pennsylvania’s Kelly Writers House, Hedgebrook, Vermont Studio Center, and the Camargo Foundation.
Jason Koo is the author of two collections of poetry, America’s Favorite Poem and Man on Extremely Small Island. Named one of the “100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture” by Brooklyn Magazine, he is also the editor of Poems for Kobe, a private limited edition of poems presented as a retirement gift to Kobe Bryant by the Brooklyn Nets and Brooklyn Poets, and coeditor of the forthcoming Bettering American Poetry anthology and Brooklyn Poets Anthology. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center and New York State Writers Institute, Koo is the founder and executive director of Brooklyn Poets, a professor at Quinnipiac University, and creator of the Bridge.
Jennifer Hayashida (moderator) is a writer, translator, and visual artist. Her most recent projects include translation from the Swedish of Athena Farrokhzad’s White Blight (Argos Books, 2015) and Karl Larsson’s Form/Force (Black Square Editions, 2015). Her work has been published and exhibited in the U.S. and abroad, and she has received awards from, among others, PEN, the MacDowell Colony, the Jerome Foundation, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She is Director of the Asian American Studies Program at Hunter College, CUNY, and serves on the board of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop.