Oct 9, 2014
The writer shares his favourite haunts in the city where he was born and raised, and where his debut novel, the international thriller Smokescreen, is partially set. BY GEMMA KOH
TELL US ABOUT A SETTING IN YOUR THRILLER THAT HAS A SPECIAL SIGNIFICANCE.
I thought it would be interesting to give the reader a glimpse of old Singapore by placing one scene at Alkaff Mansion – formerly a retreat for the Alkaff family, one of the island’s pioneers, from Yemen. I used to hear so much about the family’s famous high society garden parties that took place here in the 1930s. I have seen photographs of my family members present at these gatherings. If only time travel was possible.
WHICH BOOKSTORES DO YOU LIKE?
I frequent Kinokuniya at Ngee Ann City (large and offers a great selection), and Times Travel bookstore at Changi Airport’s Terminal 2 departure area (quieter and easier to browse without wading through a crowd).
WHERE WOULD YOU READ – OUTSIDE OF YOUR HOME?
I usually read at the Derwish Turkish Mediterranean Restaurant at Bussorah Street where I would order a plate of baklava and Turkish coffee. This usually takes place in the evening when it’s much cooler. What draws me there is its ambience, plus its charming old-world Oriental decor.
YOU WERE AWAY FROM SINGAPORE FOR A WHILE. WHAT FOOD DID YOU ZERO IN ON WHEN YOU CAME BACK?
I ended up at Adam Road Food Centre with a large plate of Indian Rojak (fried fritters and accompaniments that you dip into a sweet, thick, spicy peanut sauce). Generally, I share my food with everyone around me, but not on that day!
WHAT EVENTS ARE ON YOUR CALENDAR?
I’m keen to check out some of the talks, readings and workshops at the Singapore Writer’s Festival (October 31 to November 9). I also hope to catch the Singapore International Photography Festival (October 3 to November 30), where photographers’ works are showcased at venues around the city.