- About the Author
Shortlisted for the 2022 Singapore Literature Prize (Fiction in English)
Recipient of the 2022 Singapore Literature Prize Readers’ Favourite English Book
Shantih Shantih Shantih is about a dozen lonely individuals in Singapore who witness a freakish instance of snowfall, lasting for exactly four minutes and twenty-six seconds. Yam’s novella is both cinematic and intimate, and furthermore described by QLRS as “a distinctly Singaporean book that echoes the loneliness of living in a global city” — a perfect entryway into the curious lives and strange minds of those who trawl through this unique, cosmopolitan city.
An art student chances upon a former fling at Punggol MRT station. A reporter lies awake at four in the morning, chronically unable to sleep. Two men lie in bed, watching YouTube videos of hail falling in Singapore, while a sugar baby trawls through Google Maps, exploring the homes and neighbourhoods of her former clients.
In this novella by Daryl Qilin Yam, a dozen lonely individuals in Singapore witness a freakish instance of snowfall, lasting for exactly four minutes and twenty-six seconds. Shantih Shantih Shantih is a heady mix of desire and dauntlessness that revels in its interconnections, pulling together a community that is at once together and apart.
“Dreamscape, portrait and meditation, Shantih Shantih Shantih is a distinctly Singaporean book that echoes the loneliness of living in a global city – together yet apart, intimate yet distant, aspirational yet melancholic.”
—Quarterly Literary Review Singapore
“I finished this novelette of interconnected stories on my way home one evening, half-expecting snow to fall in Singapore like in the book. There is just no other local author who writes with Daryl’s emo-Piscean sense of awe and wonder, making him as queerly unique as a pirouetting flake of starry snow.”
“I loved Shantih Shantih Shantih’s combination of beautifully precise language with the contemplative, yearning, dreamy looseness of that hinterland time between late night and early morning. In twelve unassumingly luminous vignettes, we’re given snapshots of a small group of sleepless people around Singapore, whose lives just happen to intersect and resonate at the moment of the strange almost-miracle of a few minutes of snowfall, just after half-past four in the morning. I found myself captivated by the book’s particular blend of melancholy, tenderness and idealism, and also found myself reminded – in the absolute best of ways – of one of my all-time favourite films, Jim Jarmusch’s Night On Earth.”
“Everything is entangled and separate, everyone’s in love and lonely, everywhere afflicted by the same unnatural and luminous phenomenon in the air. Yam’s taken the narratives we use to hide from the world, picked out their brightest emotional threads, and spun something wondrous to linger over, to examine from all angles. I haven’t been this invigorated by fiction in a while.”
—Tse Hao Guang
“Shantih Shantih Shantih is an elegiac meditation on our desire for both individuality and interconnection. Drawing together a diverse cast of characters who are all linked by the experience of witnessing an unexpected moment, this novella compels and enthrals. The speculative novelty of a moment of snowfall in tropical Singapore is captured through the prism of human desire and the ways in which we form our identities against our surroundings. What surprised and moved us most about this story was its propulsive nature, despite the moment of pause that inspires these intersecting threads. The reader is so captivated by the intimate portrayals of character that they are compelled to know more, in a way fulfilling their own need for relation and connection. The novella is hopeful, its intricate portrayals a strong measure of temporal realities as well as interiorities. A remarkable feat for a work of fiction from a promising writer who will continue to do great things.”
—Balli Kaur Jaswal, Shirley Geok-lin Lim & Xu Xi
“Daryl Qilin Yam’s Shantih Shantih Shantih is a tricky one. While the title means ‘inner peace’ in Sanskrit, the book has an almost apocalyptic undertone that chronicles the stories of 12 people on a snowy day in Singapore and how their lives have intertwined. As we follow them throughout the day, we start to see their lives unravel in fragments, broaching the subjects of love and loss, meeting and passing, serendipities and mishaps among the imperfections that make life worth remembering.
Through Daryl’s characters, I have seen pieces of myself, my unanswered questions and thoughts. This ‘Scent of Snow’ essential oil blend kit is my feeble attempt to understand our shared humanity. Inspired by the fleeting nature of snow, we want to create an experience that is both personal and elusive through scents. I hope your blend will speak your truth and share your story. For this special project, we have also collaborated with Hong Kong artist, Nicolas Ho, to create a knot bag that celebrates our melancholy.”
—Vanessa Choi, Scentory
Daryl Qilin Yam (b. 1991) is a writer and editor of prose and poetry, born and based in Singapore. His novella Shantih Shantih Shantih (2021), optioned for the screen by Fiction Shore, was shortlisted for the 2022 Singapore Literature Prize (Fiction in English) and subsequently awarded by popular vote the Readers’ Favourite English Book. The manuscript of his second novel Lovelier, Lonelier (2021) received a National Arts Council Creation Grant in 2017 and became a finalist for the 2021 Epigram Books Fiction Prize; the published work was then nominated by the National Library Board for the 2023 International Dublin Literary Award.
In 2024, readers can expect an American edition of Lovelier, Lonelier by Gaudy Boy in Jan 2024, followed by the launch of Yam’s fourth book by Epigram Books in late 2024: a short story collection that brings together a decade’s worth of internationally-published interlinked short fiction. His writing has appeared in periodicals and publications such as the Berlin Quarterly, Mekong Review, Sewanee Review, The Straits Times and The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singapore Short Stories anthology series. His first novel, Kappa Quartet (2016), was longlisted for the inaugural Epigram Books Fiction Prize and has been released by Epigram Books in Singapore and the UK; it was selected by The Business Times as one of the best novels of 2016 and was also described by QLRS as “[breaking] new ground in Singaporean writing… a shimmering and poignant novel, an immensely sympathetic and humane exploration of our existential condition.”
Aside from writing, Yam is also an editor and arts organiser. He co-founded the literary charity Sing Lit Station in 2016 and presently serves as its Managing Editor, following previous positions as the non-profit’s first Station Control (2016-2019) and a treasurer / Executive Committee member of its Board of Directors (2016-2023). He co-edited the SingPoWriMo anthology series (2015-2017) with poets Jennifer Anne Champion, Joshua Ip, Ruth Tang and Stephanie Dogfoot, and is now the web editor of poetry.sg, prose.sg, the Backlogues podcast and the SingPoWriMo magazine.
Yam holds a BA (Hons) in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Warwick. As an undergraduate, he was awarded the Second Year Prize from the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies and spent an intercalated year studying under the AIKOM (Abroad in Komaba) programme at the University of Tokyo. He also holds an MA in English (Specialisation in Creative Writing) from Nanyang Technological University, with his thesis being a quartet of interlinked short stories, with a critical exegesis on homonationalism, queer worldbuilding and the Singapore short story cycle.
Cover Type: Paperback
Page Count: 124
Year Published: 2021
Size: 200mm x 125mm