SINGAPORE - For three years, Singaporean writers met senior citizens, low-income families and former prisoners and wrote stories inspired by these conversations for the annual Singapore Writers Festival.
The stories that evolved from the project from 2011 to this year appeared in online literary journal Quarterly Literary Review Singapore and print journal Ceriph.
This year, 12 of these stories will be published in print for the first time, in the anthology Passages: Stories Of Unspoken Journeys.
They can also be read for free on the Singapore Writers Festival's official website.
Festival director Paul Tan, 42, who decided on the social groups and organisations the writers would interact with, says: "There is recent American research which shows that reading literary fiction builds social empathy. So as readers navigate the authentic settings and figure out the complex human relationships within the stories, I hope they will also get a better understanding of a Singapore they may not be so familiar with.
"But whether stories really build empathy or not, the fiction in Passages are great stories to begin with and we hope Singaporeans enjoy them."
The book is fully funded by the Singapore Writers Festival and National Arts Council. It is printed by Ethos Books and retails at $22 without GST at major bookstores. Sales proceeds will be donated to The Straits Times' School Pocket Money Fund.
Writers featured include Stephanie Ye, Yeo Wei Wei, Kristina Tom, O Thiam Chin, Wong Shu Yun, Jeremy Tiang, Quek Shin Yi, Marc Nair and Dave Chua, whose stories are in English. A Malay story by Noor Hasnah Adam, one in Tamil by S. Anparasan and a work in Chinese by Han Han are included in the original language and English translation.