SINGAPORE - In a material world where productivity is king and reality shows rule, the sheer joy of reading a good book still prevails - this November, 190 authors from around the world will come to Singapore to tell you why.
The evolution of the written word, its relevance and future forms the backdrop of the 16th Singapore Writers Festival - still going strong despite declining Literature class enrolment rates and the perception that people only read Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey.
Last year saw a high of 16,200 visits to the festival's free and paid events, and organisers are hoping to meet that figure or raise it with its 10-day programme (from Nov 1 to Nov 10) and 200-plus events scattered around the Bras Basah-Bugis district.
This year's official theme is Utopia/Dystopia, but the festival will tackle everything from the preservation of cultural writing and the art of writing lyrics right up to the how-to's of creating superhero characters.
Meanwhile, the never-ending search for the meaning of literature continues with various discussion panels pondering motions such as Can Literature Do Good? and All Art Is Quite Useless.
"Though we often take it for granted, literature is one of the basic forms of human expression... It captures what makes us human - our past, our relationships with each other, our anxieties and our hopes," says festival director Paul Tan.
For 35-year-old local artist/writer Heman Chong, a panellist on All Art Is Quite Useless - art and literature help him through his daily life.
"Art allows us a space where we need not only think about the world in a way that is prescribed to us, but to discover alternative methods in our encounters with objects, people and situations," he explains.