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5 Sing Lit Books by Female Authors to Read

Are you a fan of “Singapore literature”? Or do you gravitate to books from a different region, such as the quirky novels of Japanese author Mieko Kawakami or the fascinating historical fiction of Min Jin Lee?

No matter your taste, there’s no right or wrong in reading. But you be missing out if you haven’t read Sing Lit much.

To celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) this year, which falls on 8 March, check out these books by female authors who have put Singapore on the map with their writing!

Inheritance by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Epigram Books, 2013

When 15-year-old Amrit disappears one night and returns home a changed person, her brother Narain is called back from America to reinstate order in the family. is a coming-of-age tale set during post-independence Singapore, told from the perspective of a traditional Sikh family where secrets and taboos threaten to tear everyone apart.

If you’re looking for a subversive read on love and belonging, you’ll enjoy this book for its characters bent on challenging tradition to make a place for themselves in the world.

Get the book here: Physical Book, eBook

The Mouse Marathon by Ovidia Yu

Marshall Cavendish Classics, 2021

Do you dream of escaping the rat race? That’s what Ovidia Yu’s is all about. Set in Singapore and Malaysia in the 90s, this book tells the story of Lee Jaylin, an advertising executive who questions the trajectory of her life when her lover decides to leave home to travel the world.

Originally published in 1993, is a humorous read that may resonate with a new generation of readers living in an equally fast-paced, success-driven society.

Get the book here: Physical Copy

How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee

Oneworld, 2019

When 12-year-old Kevin’s grandmother, Wang Di, makes a hurried confession on her deathbed, he is compelled to uncover the truth about her life; things that otherwise remain unsaid. He soon learns about his grandmother’s harrowing experiences during the Japanese invasion of Singapore, the knowledge of which changes his life forever.

Weaving the dual timelines of the 1942 Japanese Occupation and modern-day Singapore, is a story about trauma and how it colours the present, told with startling honesty and filled with rich detail.

Get the book here: Physical Copy, eBook, Audiobook

Ponti by Sharlene Teo

Simon & Schuster, 2019

Set in Singapore in 2003, is a haunting tale about two teenage girls, and how they come into their own as women (with much difficulty). Szu, an unpopular high schooler, meets feisty classmate Circe, with whom she develops an obsessive friendship that forces her to confront her complicated relationship with her mother, leading lady of the original films.

For those interested in a book that touches on themes of female friendship and mother-daughter relationships, consider this your go-to that may show you something different about these literary dynamics.

Get the book here: Physical Copy, eBook, Audiobook

Soy Sauce for Beginners by Kirstin Chen

New Harvest, 2014

Gretchen Lin’s life in San Francisco is crumbling; as her marriage collapses and her career goals remain up in the air, she moves back to Singapore to join her family’s soy sauce business, and finds herself in a more precarious situation. Will she remain in her childhood home, amid pressures to contribute to the business, or return to her old life in the States?

is a story about identity and how we grapple between tradition and modernity in our endless search for belonging.

Get the book here: Physical Copy

Have you read the above titles already? Then it’s time to expand your reading list. Check out more Sing Lit books as recommended by Singaporeans, from poetry to children’s literature!

Follow us on TikTok (@NLBsg) as well where we spotlight books by homegrown authors, and more:

Text by
Juliana Mei
National Library Board



Medium Account for Public Libraries Singapore — book lists and book reviews, discovering programmes at the libraries and promoting a bookish lifestyle.

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