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Singapore Writers Festival Literary Pioneer: Rex Shelley



"I think, at the back of my mind, I wanted to put down some record of the social history of this minority Eurasian community. I think this community is going to disappear; it is too small to survive.” - Rex Shelley

Rex Shelley: The Gentle Observer

The Singapore Writers Festival honours Rex Shelley (1930 – 2009) as the Literary Pioneer for 2019. Known for his seminal work The Shrimp People which documents the consciousness and culture of the Eurasian community in the 50s and 60s, his larger body of work provides vital creative historical documentation.  Shelley has received numerous accolades and book prizes. In 2007, he was the Singaporean winner of the S.E.A. Write Award and till today is the only Eurasian to have won the honour. Come experience a multi-media installation that explores Rex Shelley - both the man and the writer and his contributions to Singapore's literary landscape. 

The Literary Pioneer exhibition is produced by The Arts House.

rex shelley booklet

Download Brochure here. View Exhibition Booklet here.

Visit the Virtual Exhibition here

Also Happening:

Don't miss A Bigger Party Than Expected, an immersive programme inspired by Rex Shelley's seminal book The Shrimp People taking place on 1 Nov 2019, Fri. 

That Old Bloke from Singapore: Young Eurasian Writers respond to Rex Shelley
2 Nov, Sat, 6pm
Gallery II, The Arts House
Free Admission

This year's celebrated Literary Pioneer Rex Shelley's legacy was his archival of the Eurasian community in Singaporean Literature. We ask young Eurasian voices in the literary scene to consider how their work relates, responds to, or deviates from Shelley's. This session involves short readings from each writer followed by a conversation and Q&A.

We Remember Rex Shelley
9 Nov, Sat, 6pm
Blue Room, The Arts House
Tickets at $25 | Book now at

Professor Koh Tai Ann chaired the judging panel that awarded Rex Shelley's debut novel The Shrimp People the top prize at the National Book Development Council's book awards in 1992. She called it a "controversial choice" at the time. In this session, Prof Koh speaks to the importance of Rex Shelley's body of work.

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