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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.

Follow the Playwright's Process

In two weeks, Epigram Books and Books Actually will host an intimate session in which Chong Tze Chien, Tan Tarn How and Ovidia Yu will speak about their craft and playwrighting journeys.

When we were deciding what the theme for this event should be, Dr Robin Loon, our distinguished moderator, pointed out how rare it is to have three luminary playwrights get together for a literary evening. He therefore suggested the title of “The Playwrights’ Progress” and said he wanted to focus on the playwrights themselves, their journey, their insights, and their stories.

All are welcome to join this singular event; theatre buffs, aspiring writers, students, teachers, academics, young and old.

Date: Friday, 4th November 2011
Time: 7pm (Book sale from 7pm, talk from 7:30pm)
Venue: Books Actually, 9 Yong Siak Street Singapore 168695

Read more about the books in the Playwright Omnibus series: