Philip Jeyaretnam was born in Singapore in 1964. He is the son of the former leader of the opposition Workers’ Party in Singapore, J.B. Jeyaretnam, and his English wife. Jeyaretnam read Law at Cambridge University and graduated with First Class Honours. He has been a practising advocate since 1988.
Jeyaretnam’s early short stories »Campfire« (1985) and »Evening Under Frangipani« (1986) were awarded prizes in the Singapore Short Story Competition. His first book »First Loves« (1987) was on the Sunday Times Bestseller List for 60 weeks and was credited with a recommendation from the National Book Development Council of Singapore. This collection of interconnected short stories broaches the issue of growing up in a culturally hybrid environment. Jeyaretnam’s first novel »Raffles Place Ragtime« (1988) is a satirical attack on the avaricious and grasping nature of life in modern Singapore. Unlike his early, mostly ironic short stories, here he paints a darker picture of human deformation in a society in which achievement is measured by material gain alone. His second novel, »Abraham’s Promise« (1995), tells the story of an ageing teacher of English and Latin, whose review of his own life at the same time reflects the formation and development of Singapore’s young nation. With acute perception, eloquence and, at times, nostalgia, Jeyaretnam analyses the shortcomings and failures of the past and recalls – as he describes it – Singapore’s »unfulfilled promise«. Recently his collected works have been published, entitled: »Tigers in Paradise« (2004).
Jeyaretnam’s stories have appeared in various anthologies. His essay »Inheritance« (1991) was translated into German in 1993. He was Visiting Fulbright Fellow at the International Writers’ Program, at the University of Iowa and Harvard Law School. In his legal practice, Jeyaretnam was appointed to the legal rank of Senior Counsel in 2003. He became President of the Law Society of Singapore the following year. The author lives with his wife and their three children in Singapore.
© international literature festival berlin