Singapore Writers Festival 2018

Eco-consciousness continues to be part of this year’s Singapore Writers Festival that will bring together critically-acclaimed writers, thinkers and performers across literary genres in Singapore from 2 to 11 November 2018.

The 21st edition of the Singapore Writers Festival (SWF) returns this November to inspire people to come together to explore new worlds and ideas. It features a line-up of influential Singapore and international writers (both fiction and non-fiction), speakers and thinkers who will headline a multitude of literary events over two weeks, from 2 to 11 November 2018, in the Civic District (see below for participating venues).

Festival goers this year can also look forward to varied genres such as speculative and experimental fiction, science fiction, fantasy, medical humanities, sequential arts (graphic novel, comics, manga).

Kiran Desai speaks on place and displacement at the 2018 Singapore Writers Festival

Kiran Desai speaks on place and displacement at the 2018 Singapore Writers Festival

This year’s Festival theme is drawn from one of the non-English official languages – this time centred around a Chinese character referring to the different world(s) in which we live界 (jiè). The word itself is nuanced with multiple meanings, expressing the idea of endless worlds which range from one’s imagination and virtual reality to geographical borders and man-made boundaries.

Last year, the Festival went with the Tamil word ‘Aram’ (meaning “goodness”) in 2017 and the Malay word ‘Sayang’ (meaning “love” or “loss”) in 2016.

This year’s textured theme will encompass a broad spectrum of topics including immigration, inter-culturalism, climate change and identity. The spread seeks to offer audiences a wealth of fresh perspectives on how they see themselves, as well as to explore their identities to better understand their experiences in the world(s) they live in.

On the 2018 Festival theme, the Festival Director, Yeow Kai Chai, shared: “This year, we implore all writers, thinkers and audiences to reflect on what it means to be a citizen of the world, whilst considering our personal and geographical borders and other realms. The theme explores a sense of endless possibilities, a rich territory that we’ve woven in all our programming to inspire individuals with a multiplicity of viewpoints, experiences and perspectives to expand their pre-existing understanding of the world. In bringing communities together to explore what makes us different or what shared values unite us, we hope to spark literary conversations that truly transcend borders.”

Literary greats in poetry at this year’s festival will include Zurinah Hassan from Malaysia, Ko Ko Thett from Myanmar, Cathy Song and John Yau, both from the US, and Simon Armitage from the UK.

In fiction, Trainspotting writer Irvine Welsh and Kiran Desai (The Inheritance of Loss) from India and the US are among a few acclaimed writers who will be sharing their experiences and knowledge through lectures and masterclasses.

In the non-fiction category, there will be master satirist David Sedarist, historian Paul French, author and arts commentator Sarah Churchwell and energy/climate author Jeff Goodell. Jeff Goodell will paint a vivid picture of humanity’s fraught relationship with our planet in a one-hour lecture under the SWF Stage.

The Festival will make a concerted effort as an environmentally-friendly event by advocating eco-consciousness in both its programming and operations. To this end, Zero Waste SG will present a talk on The Microplastic Crisis and You under SWF Class.

All authors will also be provided with reusable – rather than single-use – water bottles throughout the Festival.

This year, the Festival honours Yeng Pway Ngon as our Literary Pioneer. The wide-ranging oeuvre of the Chinese writer, who received the Cultural Medallion for Literature in 2003 and a three-time winner of the prestigious Singapore Literature Prize, will be celebrated through a Classroom Talk, an exhibition and a soiree featuring family, friends, colleagues and fellow writers which will be co-presented with The Arts House.

Tickets are available from now till 30 September via SISTIC at and


About the festival

The Singapore Writers Festival, one of Asia’s premier literary events, started in 1986 as a biennial festival, and is now organised yearly by the National Arts Council. The Singapore Writers Festival is one of the few multi-lingual literary festivals in the world, celebrating the written and spoken word in Singapore’s official languages – English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil.

Today the heart of the Festival District is located at the Civic District (Empress Place area) in The Arts House; and in other venues including Asian Civilisations Museum, National Gallery Singapore, Timbre Music Academy, Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, National Library Building, Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, University Cultural Centre, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Indian Heritage Centre, the National Museum of Singapore, the Singapore Art Museum and The National Library.

For more information, please visit