“In 2016, I was asked to speak at a Singapore Writers Festival panel discussion titled “SG HORROR: Who’s Afraid of the Dark”. This surprised me, since I had never identified myself as a horror writer. Nor had my two co-panellists, Audrey Chin and Jon Gresham. The very purpose of the event was, apparently, to ponder “why there are so few horror writers in Singapore”.
Frankly, this infuriated me. The panel’s premise was absurd: not only does Singapore have a plethora of horror writers; we also have a rich and layered culture of horror that has been interpreted by a diverse range of storytellers over the centuries. I cobbled together a hastily researched lecture on the subject. Additionally, I invited a real-life horror writer to join the discussion: Raymus Chang, author of the short story collection Shadows from Here: Tales of Terror (2016).
That lecture forms the basis of this essay: an exploration of Singapore’s horror heritage over the ages. Certain gaps remain: I’ve been unable to gather much data on the history of horror in radio and non-English literature for instance. Nevertheless, it is possible to sketch a timeline that helps us understand the roots of Singaporean horror, how it has evolved, and where it is headed in the future. …”
Read Ng Yi-sheng’s examination of the culture of horrror in Singapore’s oral folklore, books and films on BiblioAsia.