The development of this book was no easy matter. The first obstacle was finding a willing publisher. I approached two publishers who declined after considering the proposal for some time. The reason was that they did not think the literature school market was big enough to warrant such a project even though the book was also to be sold to the public. This made me more aware of the challenges local writers and researchers face. If enrolment in literature remains as it is or continues to fall, this will have a trickle-down effect on writers, researchers and publishers and the overall literary culture in our country. Some time passed and I managed to contact Marshall Cavendish. Thankfully, they believed in the value of this project and were willing to give it a shot.
The second obstacle was funding. Copyright cost for the book came up to about S$7000 and I was about to throw in the towel until I met someone who suggested I approach various organizations to request for funding. Thanks to the Lee Foundation and Singapore Teachers Union, I managed to obtain a grant that covered these costs.
The book has finally been published and was off the press a few days ago! It has been a tremendous joy to work on this project. Although the anthology contains only ten stories, the selection of these stories took many months. I read countless stories and anthologies and much time was also spent corresponding with the authors and negotiating with their publishers. Broadly, I was guided by a few principles: 1. I wanted a range of contemporary writers originating from different parts of the world; 2. Each story had to deal with different global themes that I thought was important for students and readers to explore; 3. Finally, the quality of writing had to be compelling. Part of my research also involved reading critical literary reviews about each story I chose and I dare say that every single story in this collection has been intentional and carefully selected. I'm also thankful to my colleagues and friends who spent time during their holidays looking at the drafts and giving me critical feedback: Amelia Gan, Angelia Poon, Chin Ying Fen, Foo Soo Ling, Kali Sri Sivanantham, Matthew Crawshaw, Noridah Moosa, Reena Kaur, Sakunthalai Surian, Sandra Teng, Tessa Khew, Junaidah Abdul Wahab and Yang Wei.
I hope that literature teachers will pick up this book and introduce the stories to their students. More importantly, may the stories inspire new ways of engaging with urgent issues in our world today and help our students to be more globally aware, informed and empathetic. The book will also be available in local bookstores and I hope the general reader will find it provocative as well.
To read the introduction that provides an overview of the book, click here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nsRENqHMTvGcekG0Q7eUbL-HyFOq8v0sySbmmDoxgK0/edit?pli=1
More info on the book can also be found here: http://www.marshallcavendish.com/marshallcavendish/genref/CrossWorlds_B882_Singapore.aspx