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Singapore Noir

Edited by:

Singapore is exposed in all of its noir glory with scintillating stories from the very best of the city’s authors.

$15.95 $11.96

Available as an e-book for:

What people are saying…

Suchen Christine Lim’s story “Mei Kwei, I Love You” has been named a finalist for the Private Eye Writers of America Shamus Award for Best P.I. Short Story!

Singapore Noir has been nominated for a Popular Bookstore Reader’s Choice Award!

“Singapore, with its great wealth and great poverty existing amid ethnic, linguistic, and cultural tensions, offers fertile ground for bleak fiction, as shown by the 14 tales in this solid Akashic noir anthology . . . Tan has assembled a strong lineup of Singapore natives and knowledgeable visitors for this volume exploring the dark side of a fascinating country.”
Publishers Weekly

Singapore Noir is the latest in Akashic’s long-running and globetrotting Noir series, giving plenty of new and unfamiliar voices a chance to shine.”
San Francisco Book Review

Singapore Noir is another fine addition to the Akashic’s Noir series. Under Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan’s tutelage, the stories puncture the stereotypes associated with Singapore and push the genre in new directions.”
Chicago Center for Literature and Photography

One of the Toronto Star’s Recent Books of Note

“Across the book as a whole a picture emerges of Singapore, an image at variance with tourist board literature and with the popular conception of a safe but over-controlled conformist society.”
Crime Review (UK)

“John Le Carré once wrote that the secret service is the truest expression of a nation. One could say the same for crime stories, and Singapore Noir offers at least a glance at the city’s character.”
Your Impossible Voice

Singapore Noir, like Belfast Noir, once again proves that Akashic Books’ noir series is better than any travel guide.”

A Book of the Week pick at Susan Blumber-Kason’s blog

“Do read the book, Singaporeans!”
Vicky’s Writings

Singapore Noir is for the Noir fiction lover.”
—A Bibliophile’s Reverie

“If you like noir and would like to catch up on the seedy underbelly of one of the Four Asian Tigers (Dragons), give this anthology a read.”
Write Lies


Akashic Books continues its groundbreaking series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each story is set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the city of the book.

Brand-new stories by: Colin Goh, Simon Tay/Donald Tee Quee Ho, Philip Jeyaretnam, Colin Cheong, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, Monica Bhide, S.J. Rozan, Lawrence Osborne, Suchen Christine Lim, Ovidia Yu, Damon Chua, Johann S. Lee, Dave Chua, and Nury Vittachi.

From the introduction by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan:

“Say Singapore to anyone and you’ll likely hear one of a few words: Caning. Fines. Chewing gum.

For much of the West, the narrative of Singapore—a modern Southeast Asian city-state perched on an island on the tip of the Malay Peninsula—has been marked largely by its government’s strict laws and unwavering enforcement of them . . . As much as I understand these outside viewpoints, I have always lamented that the quirky and dark complexities of my native country’s culture rarely seem to make it past its borders . . .

Beneath its sparkling veneer is a country teeming with shadows . . . And its stories remain. The rich stories that attracted literary lions W. Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling to hold court at the Raffles Hotel (where the Singapore Sling was created) are still sprinkled throughout its neighborhoods. And in the following pages, you’ll get the chance to discover some of them . . .

You’ll find stories from some of the best contemporary writers in Singapore—three of them winners of the Singapore Literature Prize, essentially the country’s Pulitzer: Simon Tay, writing as Donald Tee Quee Ho, tells the story of a hard-boiled detective who inadvertently wends his way into the underbelly of organized crime, Colin Cheong shows us a surprising side to the country’s ubiquitous cheerful ‘taxi uncle,’ while Suchen Christine Lim spins a wistful tale of a Chinese temple medium whose past resurges to haunt her . . .

As for mine, I chose a setting close to my heart—the kelongs, or old fisheries on stilts, that once dotted the waters of Singapore but are gradually disappearing. I have a deep sense of romance about these kelongs, along with the many other settings, characters, nuances, and quirks that you’ll see in these stories. They’re intense, inky, nebulous. There is evil, sadness, a foreboding. And liars, cheaters, the valiant abound.

This is a Singapore rarely explored in Western literature—until now. No Disneyland here; but there is a death penalty.”

Click here to read a post by contributor Monica Bhida on gambling food in Singapore (along with a recipe for kimchi fried rice) at Spicebox Travels.

Read interviews with editor Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan at Deborah Kalb Books, the Baltimore Sun, Drinking Diaries, Omnivoracious, the New York Chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association, and Asymptote Journal.

Check out these event recaps at the Baltimore Post-Examiner and Book Bites.

Watch an interview with Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan on the Channel News Asia’s Morning Show:

Listen to an interview with Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan at After Hours with Rick Kogan (WGN Radio, Chicago).

“Smile, Singapore” by Colin Cheong was chosen as a story of the week at Storyville.

Read an interview with contributor Monica Bhida at The Kojo Nnamdi Show.

Click here to listen to a feature on Akashic’s Noir Series, with a focus on Singapore Noir, at WVXU (Cincinnati).

Read a special piece on Coronavirus by editor Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan at the Washington Post.

Watch an interview with Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan at PBS:

Table of Contents


Part I: Sirens
“Last Time” by Colin Goh (Raffles Place)
“Detective in a City with No Crime” by Simon Tay, writing as Donald Tee Quee Ho (Tanglin)
“Strangler Fig” by Philip Jeyaretnam (Bukit Panjang)
“Smile, Singapore” by Colin Cheong (Ang Mo Kio)

Part II: Love (or something like it)
“Reel” by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan (Changi)
“Mother” by Monica Bhide (Kallang)
“Kena Sai” by S.J. Rozan (Bukit Timah)
“Tattoo” by Lawrence Osborne (Geylang)

Part III: Gods & Demons
“Mei Kwei, I Love You” by Suchen Christine Lim (Potong Pasir)
“Spells” by Ovidia Yu (Tiong Bahru)
“Saiful and the Pink Edward VII” by Damon Chua (Woodlands)

Part IV: The Haves & The Have-Nots
“Current Escape” by Johann S. Lee (Sentosa Cove)
“Bedok Reservoir” by Dave Chua (Bedok)
“Murder on Orchard Road” by Nury Vittachi (Orchard Road)

Book Details

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Published: 6/3/14
  • IBSN: 9781617752353
  • e-IBSN: 9781617752810


CHERYL LU-LIEN TAN is the New York–based author of A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family. A native of Singapore, she is working on her second book, a novel. A former staff writer at the Wall Street Journal, her work has also appeared in the New York Times and the Washington Post, among other publications. She has been an artist in residence at Yaddo and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. She is a contributor to The Marijuana Chronicles and the editor of Singapore Noir.

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