Gwee Li Sui Recommends

Three Self-Published Books to Read

As Part of #BuySingLit

Many self-published books don’t get the love they deserve. But guess what joins Pranav Joshi’s novel Behind a Cultural Cage, O Thiam Chin’s fiction collection Free-Falling Man, Evangeline Neo’s comic book Eva, Matcha and Kopi, and most books by Gene Whitlock? So here are three recent DIY titles that merit some hugs…

Unapologetically Insane Tales by Zed Yeo

What the heck is this book about? Zed Yeo crowdfunded a work he needed to get out of his head, and, now that I’ve seen it, I’m worried. Unapologetically (uh oh!) Insane Tales contains very short stories, limericks, critical commentaries, and drawings. It’s so nonsensical that it can be a whole lot of fun if you let it have its way.

This collection of whatever is eccentric when it isn’t childish and clever when it isn’t eccentric. Best of all, it reads ageless. There’s a bit of Edward Lear, Shel Silverstein, and Jorge Luis Borges, and so do go in with your heart open. Thankfully, I don’t think Zed Yeo is as insane as he thinks he is, but it’s still as charming watching him playact right through.

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Shadows from Here: Tales of Terror by Raymus Chang

I frankly can’t say this enough: we need more supernatural stories! We are so well-placed as a people from several old cultures that this sort of writing ought to be our gift to world literature. Russell Lee has understood the point for decades. And now there is Raymus Chang who will show the way for a new generation of horror writers. Or I can hope.

Shadows from Here: Tales of Terror collects eight creepy stories. The setting may be urban Singapore, but culture and superstition overlap seamlessly. Ghosts are at the windows of our modernity. I won’t reveal too much here since the genre works best when experienced ignorantly. All I should say is that you’ll find things you shouldn’t pick up, places you shouldn’t go, and books you shouldn’t read. But not this one.

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Harris bin Potter and the Stoned Philosopher by Suffian Hakim

For me, Harris bin Potter and the Stoned Philosopher is the most impressive self-publication in recent memory. My simple reason is that its story started life on Suffian Hakim’s blog before growing interest compelled him to take it to print. Once published, the book flew off the shelves. Print runs later, we’re now hearing of overseas sales and an upcoming sequel…

If you can’t work out what this title is about yet, you’re not trying. Come on! Harris bin Potter and the Stoned Philosopher is an obvious local parody, and Suffian has the grand talent of writing silly for hours. Look, his hero’s parents died of food poisoning from Johor satay, and then he goes to Hog-Tak-Halal-What School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. While J. K. Rowling’s original series is essential reading, I can totally see people reading that just to get to this book. It’s that special!

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About the Author

Gwee Li Sui is a poet, graphic artist, and a literary critic. His published works include Myth of the StoneWho Wants to Buy a Book of Poems?, One Thousand and One NightsWho Wants to Buy an Expanded Book of Poems?The Other Merlion and Friendsand Haikuku.