Ovidia Yu gets HarperCollins book deal

SINGAPORE - Ovidia Yu may be a well-known and respected figure in the local literary circles. But she readily admits that getting ordinary Singaporeans to watch her plays or read her novels is still something of a struggle.

"I was talking to another local playwright and we found we both had siblings who brought their families to see Phantom of the Opera. Yet, they have never seen any of our plays!" says the 52-year-old writer of over 20 plays and several novels.

Despite her frustrations, the idea of moving to another country to be a writer is entirely out of the question for her. At heart, she still wants to convince Singaporeans first about the importance of literature.

"I know Singapore is not perfect, but then no place is. I wouldn't cast off my country any more than I would cast off my family. And challenges are probably no worse than anywhere else," she adds.

This November, she will be taking part in the Singapore Writers Festival for the second time. She will serve as a panellist for two discussions, "Asian Women Write Back" and "Unconventional Sleuths".

The first panel will cover the evolving roles of women in literature and writing from a female perspective.

The second panel discussion centres on unconventional protagonists in mystery novels. Yu's latest novel, Aunty Lee's Delights, features such a character - Aunty Lee, a Peranakan cafe owner who stumbles on a murder and goes about solving it.

The book was picked up by an American publisher, HarperCollins - a rare feat for a Singapore novel - and is scheduled to hit the shelves on Sept 17.

Yu, however, already has two sequels up her sleeve. She says she is just about to start on the final draft of Aunty Lee 2, and she is in the process of roughing out ideas for Aunty Lee 3.

She says, with a laugh: "One of them tentatively revolves around death by durian."


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