All Lit Up

Published on 28 February 2018

The second edition of #BuySingLit plays up the charms of local books and authors.

By Melanie Lee

CHINATOWN FUN Kids can join author Francis Wong Hooe Wai to explore one of Singapore’s most famous precincts.

BuySingLit is a nationwide movement to celebrate stories from Singapore, a call to action to buy homegrown literature. In fact, the National Arts Council’s National Literary Reading and Writing Survey in 2016 revealed that only 11 per cent polled read books by Singaporean writers. And yet, for the organisers of this industry-led event, convincing people to read local books is far from a lost cause.

“SingLit is our narrative, our lives, and our collective stories. #BuySingLit is part of the foundation building of our nascent literary history, and hopefully, we will be able to put down roots so that it can be passed on to future generations,” says Kenny Leck, owner of independent bookstore, BooksActually, and one of the key #BuySingLit organisers.

This year’s event, with the theme ‘Buy Local, Read Our World’, sees 15 new programme partners hailing from a variety of industries. Avant Theatre, for one, is putting up Tamil play Maappillai Vandhaar (Here Comes the Groom), by the late Se Ve Shanmugam, who was known as the Bernard Shaw of Singapore.

“It is very encouraging to see new partners joining our movement this year, especially from the non-literary community. It is a testament to the growing support of our literature and writers,” says Kenneth Quek, acting executive director of the Singapore Book Council, which serves as the secretariat for this campaign.


More than 50 #BuySingLit programmes will be happening around Singapore, with main hub The Arts House launching new literary festival, Textures, a celebration of the power and beauty of words. In one of the festival’s events, Go Trishaw Go: Read and Play!, architect-cum-author Francis Wong Hooe Wai takes kids on a Chinatown adventure based on his picture book of the same title.

Local literary appreciation goes beyond the written text with Illustrating SingLit workshops, where participants create their own artwork for their favourite SingLit books. Explore the therapeutic benefits of poetry with The Witness of Poetry: Emotions, Trauma and Healing, led by poets Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé and Eric Tinsay Valles, to discover how poetry can be a powerful means of witness and healing by engaging with buried emotions and expressing them in crafted language.

WEDDED BLISS Here Comes the Groom is a light-hearted Tamil play written by Se Ve Shanmugam.

Other interesting events include Love Letters to Singapore, a collaboration with SingPost involving 12 Singapore authors sending out letters about their neighbourhoods and community issues close to their hearts.

The sheer variety in the programming of #BuySingLit reveals the passion driving the literary community and related businesses in getting more Singaporeans to recognise local literature. In fact, the #BuySingLit movement goes beyond getting you to buy a made-in-Singapore book. The campaign also showcases the many ways local literature can enrich your life.

#BuySingLit is on from 9 – 11 March.  Visit for more information.

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