Part of The British Council's 2015 edition of Writing the City, Amanda Lee Koe shares her top tomes
Splitting her time between New York and Singapore, 28-year-old Amanda Lee Koe is an unwavering voice in our local literary scene. The pen behind Ministry of Moral Panic — a collection of short stories on Singapore's contemporary identity — which won the 2014 Singapore Literature Prize for English Fiction, she's now part of The British Council's 2015 edition of Writing the City. We pick her brain to find out what she's been reading as well as her current literary crushes.
Pitch Dark and Speedboat by Renata Adler "I'm having a major prose crush on Renata Adler in Pitch Dark and Speedboat. She really writes the most clear-eyed prose that manages to be über-intelligent and lyrical without ever seeming overwrought. Of course she also has to be one of those super overachievers (with a wonderfully iconic side-braid hairstyle at that) and fiction can barely contain her at all: She's primarily been a journalist with The New Yorker and a film critic at The New York Times since the '60s."
Toward A Minor Literature by Deleuze & Guattari "I'm currently reading Deleuze & Guattari's Toward A Minor Literature to prep for a lecture I'll be presenting at Goethe University in January. I want to develop a lecture centred on shifting borders in relation to "world literature". It gives me quite a bit to chew on in thinking about the notion of a "minor literature" that deterritorializes one terrain as it maps another, especially since I'll be a Singaporean writer living in New York presenting a lecture in Germany."
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll "I think that reading Alice in Wonderland as a girl growing up in a HDB flat in Singapore was instrumental in helping me circumvent the monotony of my world. Perhaps for me an initial motivating impulse in writing was escapism, and Through the Looking Glass was (and is) as escapist as it gets. As a child (anywhere) you always had to be doing what someone else tells you to be doing. Only when I was reading or writing or playacting could I do what I wanted, be whom I was not."
The Resident Tourist by Troy Chin "Troy Chin's graphic novel series The Resident Tourist captures so well the tender deadlock of being a contemporary Singaporean. You'll recognise bits of yourself and your circumstances in his spare, deadpan lines, you'll appreciate the self-taught OCD precision in his graphic panels and above all you'll fall for his honesty. On the note of on-point graphic novels, I'm also still waiting to get my hands on Sonny Liew's The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye as I've been away, but I have heard so many good things about it."
The Autobigraphy of Alice B Toklas by Gertrude Stein "I'm not certain I have a reliable sense of humour, but I think Gertrude Stein's The Autobigraphy of Alice B Toklas is uproarious both on the level of its frame-Gertrude Stein, who is Alice B Toklas' real life lover, basically writes about herself (i.e. Gertrude Stein), via the character of Alice B Toklas in a first person narrative, in a fiction that is a putative autobiography-and also on a sentiment and sentence level, by way of an example: 'After a while I murmured to Picasso that I liked his portrait of Gertrude Stein. Yes, he said, everybody says that she does not look like it but that does not make any difference, she will, he said.'"
To see more of what other creatives are reading, click here.