Fortunately, thanks to Zafar I was able to attend the sessions vicariously at least. Bruce Sterling, the well-known American science fiction writer, gave his take on Writing Sci Fi and painted a bleak picture of the world of the future.
Another session focused on crime writing, more specifically Women and Crime. Among questions raised:
Why is there so much of crime writing in the West? And why is there so little of crime writing in the East?
I find Nuri Vittachi's comment about writing in this part of the world in general very interesting:
Vittachi said that it was not just about the crime writers published internationally from the East but in general about writers in English from the East. He said that the simple reason was that there was no machinery to promote writers from this region: no literary agents, no publishers, no editors. But there was hope, he said. Two literary agents are now setting up office in Asia: one in China and another in Hong Kong.
Great to know!
There was a panel discussion Sexuality and Desire in Asian Writing consisting of writers Gerrie Lim (Invisible Trade), Wei Hui (Shanghai Baby; Marrying Buddha), and Isa Kamari (Kiswah). I'd have loved to have seen Wei Hui especially, having enjoyed her Shanghai Baby.
Then there was Tarun Tejpal, "India's ace journalist, editor, publisher" talking about his novel: The Alchemy of Desire.
and Colleen Doran
talking about graphic novels which are becoming increasingly popular in Singapore, and probably in Malaysia too. (Booksnobs like me haven't taken them seriously - after reading Zafar's entry I think I should begin to!)
Anyway, do go read the whole thing on Zafar's blog - this is very good stuff and the next best thing to being there yourself. I applaud the festival organisers for catering to a very wide variety of literary tastes. I think our own Litfest got a bit too snobby-elistist with almost no concession made to genre fiction. A narrow view indeed of what literature is.)
(By the way, did you know that one of Mills and Boon's top romance novelists lives in Cheras and is a HE writing under a female pseudonym?! Buy me a long-island iced tea for the rest of the story.)
Meanwhile, check out the Singapore Writers' Festival Blog for more stories and photos of other sessions. I'm jealous!!
DZ sent me this link to the excellent Kitaab website with plenty of Asian literary news.