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20240429|Critical Curatorial Practices in the 21st Century: Public Space, New Media and Geopolitics


Malay Sketches

Publication Date|2020-11-01

Authors|Alfian Sa'at




Writing about the silenced minority in Singapore
Reading Malay Sketches is like sitting on the longest East-West line train in Singapore, using about one hour’s time to traverse more than 30 stations and 50 kilometers from one end to another, overlooking the scenery on the ground. These sketches of Singapore is written in the form of flash fiction, echoing the island’s geographical area and pace of living. As if the writer brings with him a camera, captures the everyday moment on the street, or sneaks into the life of people in the HDB flats. He makes stops, snaps pictures, and shows his readers various observations and imaginations of life. As can be seen in the chapters titled by place names, the writer freely enters into people’s mind and thoughts to illustrate the frozen moments. 
Alfian Sa’at is a well-known Singapore bilingual writer, poet and playwright. He is also regarded by the Singapore government as a political dissident. Most characters in the stories belong to a minority community in Singapore - the Malays who made up 15% of the population – who are often marginalized and silenced. In the mainstream narrative, they are as though the disappearing indigenous population whose “backwardness” prevents them from participating in the rapid development of the modern society. Malay Sketches unveils all the problems hidden under such modernity discourse that focuses on meritocracy, multiculturalism and secularism. Born and raised at home but becoming “homeless” is the common dilemma facing the Malays in Singapore. Alfian Sa’at’s writing practice is inherited from the Malay intellectual tradition in the last century, which bases itself on social awareness and historical consciousness. The Malays in the stories are not objects to be narrated, but as living subjects in search for their voices. 

Translator’s Preface
1. The Convert
2. Losing Touch
3. Three Sisters
4. Paya Lebar, 5 AM
5. Village Radio
6. After The Dusk Prayers
7. Overnight
8. Geylang Serai, 6 AM
9. A Hantu Tetek Story
10. Cold Comfort
11. Sacrifice
12. Tampines, 7 AM
13. Give Me A Simple One
14. The Morning Ride
15. Shallow Focus
16. Telok Blangah, 8 AM
17. Litter Girl
18. A Hantu Kumkum Story
19. Proof
20. Tanjong Pagar, 12 Noon
21. The Hole
22. The Bath
23. The Sendoff
24. Pasir Panjang, 3 PM
25. A Howling
26. A Pontianak Story
27. The Barbershop
28. Bukit Batok, 5 PM
29. His Birthday Present
30. Foreign Language
31. Reunion
32. Bedok, 7 PM
33. A Toyol Story
34. Second Take
35. The Drawer
36. Paya Lebar, 8 PM
37. Gravity
38. Singapore By Night
39. Visitors
40. Kampung Glam, 10 PM
41. The Borrowed Boy
42. Playback
43. Two Brothers
44. Kallang, 12 Midnight
45. A Starry Hill
46. The Boy At The Back Of The Bus
47. Child
48. Kaki Bukit, 3 AM

Alfian Sa'at

Alfian Sa’at is the Resident Playwright of Wild Rice. 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’, three 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. He has also been nominated for the Singapore Literature Prize three times, for 'Corridor' (1999, Commendation Prize), ‘A History of Amnesia’ (2004) and his translation of the novel ‘The Widower’ (2016).
Alfian has won Best Original Script at the Life! Theatre Awards four times, for ‘Landmarks’ (2004), ‘Nadirah’ (2010), 'Kakak Kau Punya Laki' (Your Sister's Husband, 2013) and Hotel’ (with Marcia Vanderstraaten, 2016). He is also the co-artistic director of the biennial Singapore Theatre Festival.

Show Ying Xin
Show Ying Xin is a postdoctoral fellow at the Malaysia Institute, Australian National University and lecturer at ANU's School of Culture, History & Language. She received a Ph.D. in literature from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She is interested in Southeast Asian history and literature, especially the knowledge and cultural productions in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. She is also a translator, and co-founder of Rumah Attap Library & Collective and Amateur in Kuala Lumpur.  

Bodhi IA
Bodhi IA is a visual artist from Ruang Gulma Collective in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He explores media arts, music and literature in his works, and he is the founder of Flyingpants.lab visual design studio.



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