22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Amanda Lee Koe

Portrait Amanda Lee Koe
© Kirsten Tan

Amanda Lee Koe was born in 1987 in Singapore, where she also grew up.

Her first collection of short stories, »Ministry of Moral Panic«, appeared in 2013. Set against the backdrop of the linguistic, cultural and national diversity of the South East Asian island nation of Singapore, which is overshadowed by US colonialism and neo-colonialism, Amanda Lee Koe tells 16 stories of love lost. Often, social or ethnic backgrounds are the stumbling blocks in the protagonists’ search for romance. Amanda Lee Koe focuses on the inner being of her lonely, uprooted characters. For example, »Flamingo Valley« tells of a Malay musician who wishes to marry a Chinese woman, but is turned away by her parents because of his ethnicity and poverty. He meets her several years later in hospital but she is suffering from Alzheimer’s and does not recognize him. However, he is still able to connect with her in a way that her family cannot. Another story describes a man who has a relationship with an Indonesian maid; when the affair comes to light, he chooses his white wife over her. To the maid’s astonishment, she is fired and sent back home. Another dramatic story tells of an artist who represents the futility of human feelings by creating two halves of a horse that mechanically slide across an exhibition space, moving further apart instead of meeting. The stories are written with great empathy and in a tone that is both laconic and melancholic. Other work by Amanda Lee Koe has been published in magazines in Hong Kong, the USA and Germany.

Amanda Lee Koe’s debut was awarded the 2014 Singapore Literature Prize for English Fiction and 2016 Singapore Book Award for Best Fiction. It was also long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award in 2014, nominated for the HKW International Literature Award and picked as one of the ten best English books of the last fifty years in Singapore. As well as being a writer, Amanda Lee Koe is also an editor at »Esquire« (Singapore) and the Singaporean movie magazine »Cinematheque Quarterly«. She has also founded a mentoring program for young writers in Singapore and has mentored non-fiction writing. She has also acted as curator for interdisciplinary exhibitions, as well as co-writing and co-directing the experimental documentary film »Post-Love«, which was nominated for the Singapore Short Film Award in 2012. She lives in New York and is currently writing her first novel.