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On Books, With Haresh Sharma

Need a good book to read this weekend? Read on for suggestions from Haresh Sharma, Resident Playwright at local theatre company The Necessary Stage.

Sharma has published two plays with Epigram Books: Those Who Can’t, Teach and Model Citizens.

What was your favourite book growing up?

I mostly read books from my primary school library and the second-hand bookshops, such as The Famous Five, The Secret Seven and The Five Find-Outers. But my favourite was the Amar Chitra Katha Indian stories for children [written in English]. I loved reading the fables, folktales and epics from Panchatantra and the Ramayana.

What books are currently on your ‘to-read’ list?

Fear of Writing by Tan Tarn How
Map of the Invisible World by Tash Aw
Wish You Were Here by Graham Swift
On Canaan’s Side by Sebastian Barry

Who are your top five authors?

This is a random selection: EM Forster, Haruki Murakami, Jhumpa Lahiri. As a playwright, I also admire the works of Caryl Churchill. For Singapore writers, I would say Arthur Yap and Alfian Sa’at.

Have you ever faked reading a book? If so, which one(s)?

Unfortunately, I had to fake-read in university. There were too many books and too little time. When I discovered theatre, literature took a bit of a back seat.

Have you ever bought a book just because you thought the cover was beautiful? If so, which one?

No.

If you could pick just one book to recommend, which book would it be?

These are my favourites which I read in the last year or so:

In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
Room by Emma Donoghue

Is there a book that changed your life? If so, which one?

There isn’t one specific book that changed my life. But when I was introduced to modern English literature back in school, I was heavily inspired, both by the writing and the writers’ world-views. The writings of Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, DH Lawrence, TS Eliot, EM Forster among others, sealed my love for literature and yes, changed my life.

What is your favourite line from a book?

I don’t recall lines from books––except the quotes I had to memorise as a literature student!

What book would you want to read again for the first time?

There isn’t any book I want to read again for the first time. But there are books I DO want to read for the first time, especially great classics which I’ve missed out on––writers like Tolstoy and Nabokov, CS Lewis and Tolkien, and Lorca and Marquez.

What book or book character would you want to be real?

None.
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Also check out our previous instalments in this series, with Robert Yeo and Ovidia Yu. Happy reading!

On Books, With Ovidia Yu

This week, the energetic and vivacious playwright and author Ovidia Yu graces us with her take on books!

Ovidia has published an anthology of plays with Epigram Books titled Eight Plays.

What was your favourite book growing up?

At different ages:

Apple Bough by Noel Streatfield
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Metamorphosis by Ovid (probably because of the name!)

What books are currently on your ‘to-read’ list?

The Taj Conspiracy by Manreet Sodhi Somesshwar (just published, I’m part way through now!)
The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny (coming out Aug 28th)


Who are your top five authors?

Currently: (if you’re talking living writers)

1. Louise Penny
2. Alan Bradley
3. Kerry Greenwood
4. Donna Leon
5. Alexander McCall Smith


But the list changes from month to month, sometimes from week to week and from day to day so don’t engrave this in stone!

Have you ever faked reading a book?

If you mean to avoid being drawn into conversation, yes. But it doesn’t work very well because if people want to talk they’ll ask “what are you reading?” “Is it any good?” So as a general rule it works better fake praying or meditating.

Have you ever bought a book just because you thought the cover was beautiful? If so, which one?

So far no.

If you could pick just one book to recommend, which book would it be?

Malay Sketches by Alfian Saat.

Is there a book that changed your life? If so, which one?

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

What is your favourite line from a book?

(I may be misquoting, I don’t have the book with me but this is roughly how it goes.) From Nancy Mitford’s Love In A Cold Climate:

“Such a beautiful girl and no BA at all,” Lady Montdore said. “SA,” said Lady Patricia faintly, “Or BO.”


What book would you want to read again for the first time?

Sorry, I can’t think of one. I think the more I reread books the more I grow to love them. I wouldn’t want to lose that bond with any of the books I’ve grown to love and I wouldn’t want to read any of the others (again) for the first time.

What book or book character would you want to be real?

The Three Pines books by Louise Penny. I would love to go visit the B & B in Three pines where the food is fantastic (in fantasy and novel worlds I can eat meat) and all the furniture is for sale, and meet Clara Morrow and Inspector Gamache.

On Books, With Robert Yeo

We’ve been bringing our readers A Day in the Life of Epigram Books staffers for a while now, so we thought it might be a nice change to give our readers an insight into the minds of our authors!

First up, the brilliant and gentlemanly Robert Yeo, prolific poet and author. A welcome and familiar sight in the office, Mr Yeo has published The Adventures of Holden Heng and The Best of Robert Yeo with Epigram Books.

Without further ado, a very quick Q & A with Robert Yeo on our favourite topic, books!

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His poems are personal poems, reflections on observed reality. They chronicle the developments of an individual consciousness while at the same time they chronicle the developments of Singapore. The parallelism of the poet and the city is unforced but recurrent.
–– Michael Wilding, novelist and Emeritus Professor of English and Australian Literature, University of Sydney.

What was your favourite book growing up?
There were too many, but if I have to give a favourite, it is the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, read when I was probably an adolescent of 14 to 15 years old. I must have been precocious!

What books are currently on your “to-read” list?
What Maisie Knew by Henry James, Confucius by Meher McArthur, Shame by Salman Rushdie, July’s People by Nadine Gordimer.

Who are your top five authors?
Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Michael Wilding (an Australian writer), Ernest Hemingway and Arthur Yap.

Have you ever bought a book just because you thought the cover was beautiful?
No.

If you could pick one book to recommend, which book would it be?
The Analects by Confucius.

Is there a book that changed your life?
No.

What is your favourite line from a book?
The first line from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

What book would you want to read again for the first time?
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

What book or book character would you want to be real?
Hamlet

August 08, 2012 by Epigram Books Admin