Life, as you know, is a never-ending process of change. In that light, I would like to say hello to readers of BiblioAsia as the new head of the National Library.
While change might be the only constant in life, what hasn’t changed is our commitment to delivering great reads to you, illuminating interesting nuggets of Singapore’s history.
This issue’s cover story is on comics in Singapore. Two mild-mannered librarians, Jacqueline Lee and Chiang Yu Xiang, take us on a fascinating tour of the history of local comics, which goes all the way back to the 1860s.
Still on the subject of fiction, if you are interested in monkey-man chimeras and dog kings, read Benjamin J.Q. Khoo’s eye-opening essay on how Singapore and Southeast Asia are featured in European literature before the 19th century.
We don’t have to go all the way to Europe to hear tall tales though. Pulau Ubin is home to the famous German Girl shrine, which has inspired plays and orchestral scores. But how much of the tragic story actually happened? After a few bumboat rides (and plenty of research), William L. Gibson uncovers the truth behind the tale.
From fiction, we turn to food. Khir Johari has recently published a book – The Food of Singapore Malays – and in this issue, we run a fascinating extract from that book on foraging. Durian lovers, in particular, will not want to miss what he has to say.
Moving on from what captivates our stomachs to what captivates the eye – we explore the shiny lure of gold. Foo Shu Tieng explains when and how the metal as both ornament and currency became popular in Southeast Asia and looks at what gold artefacts have been found by archaeologists in and around Singapore.
Finally, don’t miss Andrea Kee’s article on the rise of newly independent and assertive young women in Singapore during the interwar years; Alvin Tan’s essay documenting the painstaking efforts to restore the statues of St Joseph’s Church on Victoria Street; Athanasios Tsakonas’s tribute to the contractors from Hui’an who helped build some of Singapore’s famous landmarks; Zhuang Wubin’s examination of three important pre-war photo exhibitions; and Rebecca Tan’s deep dive into the history of Changi Airport.
There is, as you can see, no shortage of interesting things to read in this issue. Who says history is boring?