Niche, but necessary

Lend thy ears to the women writers of Asia, as they return to the local literary stage for the second edition of the Asian Women Writers Festival. Inaugurating in 2016, the festival is a platform to recognize Asian women writers making an impact on the arts and larger society with their work. This year’s event will take place from Jan 19-20 at the Singapore Arts House.

Themed ‘Women Write to Change’, the two-day festival was curated to showcase writers who have demonstrated initiative in driving conversations on change in attitude, mindset and politics. In the featured lineup are established and upcoming writers from Singapore, India, Malaysia and The Philippines, including prominent names Noelle Q de Jesus from the Philippines, Sabyn Javeri from Pakistan, as well as Singapore’s very own Balli Kaur Jaswal and Nuraliah Norasid. Norasid's debut novel The Gatekeeper won the $25,000 Epigram Books Fiction Prize for, and is also among the 58 books up for the award of “Asian Woman Writer of the Year”.

On day one, attendees can look forward to a panel discussion with the invited authors, and a keynote address delivered by British-born Singaporean author Meira Chand, better known for her colonial novel A Different Sky, as well as the story behind 2005’s The LKY Musical. Day two will see creative writing workshops and talks by the various writers.

Elaborating on the need for the festival, India Se Media’s managing director Shobha Tsering Bhalla said: “There is a lot of talent in Southeast Asia, and some very strong women’s voices that need a dedicated platform. Women writers don’t seem to get adequate publicity in any country and even less so in this region.”

Amen, sister. To mingle with the cream of the crop, get your festival pass here.