Singapore local book delight: Coast

I was at independent bookstore Books Actually a few weeks back for the first time and was thrilled to find original titles sold there, published under the bookstore’s independent publishing arm Math Paper Press.

It was an absolute joy to find such a gem in a city which is underwhelmed with literary talents, often labeled as idealists and dreamers lost in translation.

There was a whole range of books to choose from, from short experimental stories to full-length books, and browsing through them was like opening up Pandora’s box, albeit in a good manner.After much deliberation, I picked up the book “Coast,” described as a mono-titular anthology where “every single story and poem in the book has the title “Coast,” according to one of the contributing authors Ng Yi-Sheng.

In this entry, I thought it would be interesting to share a few of my favorite extracts from the collection of works. Enjoy!

“this is a boundary between the land and sea. It also marks
our eternal journeying, toes typing out goodbye letters on the sand,
where we put a stop to our old lives and begin new ones
where running and swimming are not mutually exclusive
where roads coalesce and disperse into grains of truth.
in each man’s heart lies an ocean, maybe two
replete with its own shoreline and inlets
to love is to cross to the other side.
to die is to fill the expanse with sand and reclaim it.”
– Jonathan Ng


“If you are a Christian, JJ said, you go to Christian heaven, or hell, as the case may be. If you are a Buddhist, you get reincarnated, either into a higher life form if you’ve been good, a cockroach if not. Muslims go to Muslim heaven, Hindus go to Hindu heaven, and if you’re a free-thinker, you will just cease to exist in the whole universe.

There was a solemn pause as we all pondered the absoluteness of this non-existence.

Then Sam spoke up, his voice disdainful. That’s nonsense, he said. Souls can’t disappear just like that. When free-thinkers die, they can’t go to either heaven or hell, so their souls float on the surface of the sea. My Sunday school teacher, who went to Harvard, told me so.”
– Stephanie Ye


“Sex is something that people do
while others watch.

It is what they do to make babies, out of faith
in the lover’s fidelity.

or what is left of that.
My friends have left me. The things I said to them

return with each breath I suck
through the make-shift pipe: heightened clarity, the rush of

meth twisting through my own icy innards.
I think about poetry for distraction.”
– Zhuang Yusa


“I’ve lived here all my life. And I know there’s no 10th floor. There never was and there never will be!” Dominic said, almost shouting in spite of himself. He was suddenly tired of numbers and figures; how many of this, how much of that and how what seems uncountable to the eye has a way of becoming countable facts. Like grains of sand flowing imperceptibly into seconds, minutes, hours, a lifetime. Everything was slipping from him now.
Local delights: Coast
“What makes you so sure there’s no 10th floor young man?”
– Felix Cheong


3 thoughts on “Singapore local book delight: Coast

  1. That’s so awesome that there is a book store that is also a publisher in Singapore of all places! Those are hard to find even in Europe or the US!

    Awesome post, and great poems/stories!

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