JIA LAT LAH
Authored by Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé, Jia Lat Lah is framed as an antiplay, defying typical conventions expected of a dramatic production — the antiplay is written up through a series of poems, jokes and test questions. A work in the tradition of the Theatre of the Absurd, Jia Lat Lah takes a leaf from practitioners of the form, including Ionesco, Camus and Sartre, while invoking a distinctly indigeneous tone given the use of Singapore colloqualisms. With all its poem titles strung up as a litany of quatrains — an ode to the one-act play structure of Beckett’s Endgame — the illusion of the transparent lyric becomes apparent through the aporia, the Derridean understanding of eternal linguistic flux and indecision. With its 2017 publication, this collection commemorates the 60th anniversary of the writing and first staging of Beckett’s Endgame, or Fin de partie in French.
In his praise of this book, Michael Chiang has this to say: “One of the oddest reads you’ll ever encounter. Like Alice in Singa-land, expect to bump your head and bruise your innocent soul as Jia Lat Lah’s curious and curiouser characters get mad and madder in a strangely hypnotic narrative. At once knowing and naughty, Desmond Kon’s antiplay about identity, language and culture clearly revels in defying literary convention. Play, prose and poetry mix and tumble with a heady dose of Singlish and Beckett, proving that there are no boundaries to the author’s wit and imagination.”
“Jia Lat Lah is an amusing, provocative collection of poems deliberately designed to shock and fluster the delicate Singaporean temperament,” Mary-Ann Russon at BBC News Online writes. “The author cleverly sticks to several themes throughout the poems — many written in the voice of a teenager. Will definitely strike a chord with anyone who has been to secondary school in Singapore. A must read.”
Jointly Published by Glass Lyre Press and Squircle Line Press
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