Celebrating International Crime Fiction Month
Tuesday May 27, 2014
International Crime Fiction Month presents a conversation on crime writing around the world, featuring Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan (editor of Singapore Noir) and Marco Malvaldi (author of Game for Five), and moderated by our Crime Fiction Academy director, Jonathan Santlofer.
About Singapore Noir (Akashic)
Say Singapore to anyone and you’ll likely hear one of a few words: Caning. Fines. Chewing gum.
For much of the West, the narrative of Singapore—a modern Southeast Asian city-state perched on an island on the tip of the Malay Peninsula—has been marked largely by its government’s strict laws and unwavering enforcement of them ... As much as I understand these outside viewpoints, I have always lamented that the quirky and dark complexities of my native country’s culture rarely seem to make it past its borders...
Beneath its sparkling veneer is a country teeming with shadows... And its stories remain. The rich stories that attracted literary lions W. Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling to hold court at the Raffles Hotel (where the Singapore Sling was created) are still sprinkled throughout its neighborhoods. And in the following pages, you’ll get the chance to discover some of them...
You’ll find stories from some of the best contemporary writers in Singapore—three of them winners of the Singapore Literature Prize, essentially the country’s Pulitzer: Simon Tay, writing as Donald Tee Quee Ho, tells the story of a hard-boiled detective who inadvertently wends his way into the underbelly of organized crime, Colin Cheong shows us a surprising side to the country’s ubiquitous cheerful “taxi uncle,” while Suchen Christine Lim spins a wistful tale of a Chinese temple medium whose past resurges to haunt her...
As for mine, I chose a setting close to my heart—the kelongs, or old fisheries on stilts, that once dotted the waters of Singapore but are gradually disappearing. I have a deep sense of romance about these kelongs, along with the many other settings, characters, nuances, and quirks that you’ll see in these stories. They’re intense, inky, nebulous. There is evil, sadness, a foreboding. And liars, cheaters, the valiant abound.
This is a Singapore rarely explored in Western literature—until now. No Disneyland here; but there is a death penalty.
About Game for Five (World Noir)
At the Bar Lume, in a small coastal resort near Pisa, between shots of espresso and hands of cards, four old-timers and Massimo the Barman while away the time chatting, arguing, and theorizing about the murder of a young woman in their town.
The victim’s now notoriously licentious lifestyle makes everyone think that her death must be connected to the world of drug trafficking and dangerous sex that she inhabited. Indeed, the prime suspects in the case are two of the girl’s nocturnal associates. But out of love of gossip, the old friends at the Bar Lume begin to pull the case to pieces, forcing Massimo into the role of amateur sleuth. And they discover that all is not as it first seems.
The four old-timers analyze the crime and the suspects, contextualizing both, and in the process subject their narrow-minded neighbors to close and hilarious scrutiny. From this amateur investigation into the tragic death of a local girl, in Malvaldi’s lively and colorful prose, emerges an entertaining picture of life in a small town.
Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan is the New York-based author of A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family. A native of Singapore, she is working on her second book, a novel. A former staff writer at the Wall Street Journal, her work has also appeared in The New York Times and the Washington Post, among other publications. She has been an artist in residence at Yaddo and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program.
Marco Malvaldi was born in Pisa in 1974. Game for Five is the first in the Bar Lume series, featuring Massimo the Barman and the four elderly sleuths. He is the winner of both the Isola d’Elba Award and the Castiglioncello Prize for his crime novels. For Europa Editions, Howard Curtis has translated five novels by Jean-Claude Izzo, including all three books in his Marseilles trilogy, as well as works by Francisco Coloane, Luis Sepúlveda, Caryl Férey, Daniel Arsand, Santiago Gamboa, and Carole Martinez.