A Periodical that Bridged Singapore and Hong Kong 54 Years Ago
In 1961, the late renowned Chinese literary pioneer in Singapore and Malaysia, Fang Xiu, published The Malayan Literature Series at the invitation from World Book Company. This series, which consisted of ten books, even sported the illustration of coconut trees and a typical Malay kampong house on stilts on the back cover to highlight the series’ Nanyang (Southeast Asia) origin. The unique design attracted the public’s attention because though the writer and editor were from Malaysia, the series was printed in Hong Kong by Archipelago Press.
Southeast Asian literary works published overseas? This arrangement is hard to imagine in today’s market with rapidly declining readership. But half a century ago, the collaboration between Nanyang and other Chinese nations in East Asia was much more frequent and therefore, such arrangement was nothing out of the norm. Ina Chang (章星虹) wrote in her article, A Periodical that Bridged Singapore and Hong Kong 54 Years Ago in the 12 January 2015 issue of Lianhe Zaobao, about another such “bridging” regional collaboration. It was a periodical named Nanyang Literature and Art that was also the brainchild of the founder of World Book Company, Mr Chou Sing Chu.
Reportedly, Mr Chou Sing Chu had used the Shanghainese periodical, Fiction Monthly as the blueprint and approached writer Tam Sau-Mok to discuss publishing a similar periodical for the readers in Nanyang. As a result, Nanyang Literature and Art was launched in January 1961. It was a periodical that bridged Singapore and Hong Kong; the editorial team was based in both locations and the published works were written by writers from both locations.
Although Nanyang Literature and Art only published 24 issues in total, its impacts on Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as the developments in the overseas Chinese literary scene and publishing industry, were far-reaching. Just as Ina Chang had mentioned in her article, these “bridging” interactions have never ceased. Since 2014, Chou Sing Chu Foundation has begun organising the Sing Chu Literature Lectures series, and the first two guest speakers who had graced the occasions were both from Hong Kong – renowned novelist Dung Kai Cheung and essayist Tung Chiao. We hope that through the Sing Chu Literature Lectures series, we will continue to promote the regional interaction that Mr Chou Sing Chu had initiated and do our part in promoting regional cultural exchange.