A Year in the Life of NUS Press July 19, 2018 17:35

It has been a busy and fulfilling year for NUS Press, and as there's three weeks to go before the start of the next term at NUS, we had time to catch our breath and recall our previous year in publishing…



(pix courtesy NUS Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences)

On August 14th, Prof Chan Heng Chee, Ambassador-at-Large and member of the NUS Board of Trustees launches Chua Beng Huat’s Liberalism Disavowed: Communitarianism and State Capitalism in Singapore, at the National Library Board’s Pod. We follow this up over the next six weeks with book events at the Kinokuniya Main Store, the Asia Research Institute, and the Head Foundation in Singapore. Read Prof Chan’s remarks in the Inter-Asian Cultural Studies journal, or see the NUS News report of the event. Later that month David Teh’s Thai Art: Currencies of the Contemporary, launches with events in Bangkok, and Chiang Mai. In the upcoming months we have book talks for Thai Art in Kuala Lumpur, Jogjakarta and Singapore.


The simplified Chinese edition of The ASEAN Miracle, by Kishore Mahbubani and Jeffery Sng launches in Beijing, published by Peking University Press. Prof Kishore fields questions from Chinese audiences keen to understand his views on the importance of ASEAN in an era of strategic rebalancing.


Kishore Mahbubani speaks on The ASEAN Miracle at the Asia Society, New York, and the Harvard Asian Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Later in the month he launches the Kompas Gramedia Indonesian edition before an enormous audience of 5000 students of international relations.


The ASEAN Miracle continues to attract interest: The book is featured at the international StoryDrive Asia conference by Singapore’s Intellectual Property Office as an example of effective licensing of copyrights across borders. NUS Press has signed deals for 12 translations and co-editions in the ASEAN countries, China, India, Taiwan, Japan and Italy.


ArtForum, New York, names David Teh’s Thai Art: Currencies of the Contemporary one of its books of the year, and it gets a thorough review in Art in America. Contemporary Indonesian Art: Artists, Art Spaces, and Collectors, by Yvonne Spielmann is named a book of the year by Art & Asia Pacific. The next month we announce our partnership with the Singapore Art Museum for Writing the Modern: Selected Texts on Art & Art History in Singapore, Malaysia & Southeast Asia, by T.K. Sabapathy, and the NTU Center for Contemporary Art for Place.Labour.Capital. Our art list is truly up and running…



Three NUS Press books were shortlisted for the Singapore History Prize, and the first prize, worth S$50,000, goes to John N Miksic for his Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, published by NUS Press with the National Museum of Singapore. The Jury is composed of Peter Coclanis, Kishore Mahbubani, Claire Chiang and Wang Gungwu (as seen in the photo above, with John Miksic in the middle).

Prof Wang Gungwu, Chair of the Jury Panel, says, “With this book, Prof Miksic has laid the foundations for a fundamental reinterpretation of the history of Singapore and its place in the larger Asian context, bringing colour and definition to a whole new chapter of the Singaporean identity.”

Also shortlisted are Nature’s Colony: Empire, Nation and Environment in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, by Timothy P Barnard, and Squatters into Citizens: the 1961 Bukit Ho Swee Fire and the Making of Modern Singapore, by Loh Kah Seng.


The King of Spain writes a letter commemorating 50 years Singapore-Spain diplomatic relations, but looking back to 400 years of interaction, citing the Jacques de Coutre’s Singapore and Johor 1594-c. 1625 as evidence. We published the book in 2015. There’s a citation we didn’t anticipate!



March 20th, President of Singapore and Chancellor of NUS, Halimah Yaacob, launches Breast Cancer Meanings: Journey Across Asia at a gala fund-raising dinner. That weekend, Peter and Paul fly to the US to attend the Association for Asian Studies meeting, where Paul chairs a panel he organised on Academic Journals and the Publishing Process, and Peter is the only publisher represented at the Digital Technologies in Asian Studies Working Group meeting. Meanwhile, back in Singapore, Cherian George draws a crowd of hundreds for a talk at NUS U-Town on censorship. Our team is there, selling his books, including his latest published by our colleagues at MIT Press.


Tim P Barnard’s history of the Singapore Botanical Gardens is reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement, marking our debut in that journal’s review section. Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit’s edited volume - Unequal Thailand gets a super review the Journal of Asian Studies, which says it "should be read by all…who have an interest in contemporary Thai politics and political economy…”


Stefan Huebner’s Pan-Asian Sports and the Emergence of Modern Asia, 1913–1974 is published in Japanese translation. A Choice recommended title, Pan-Asian Sports is Stefan’s first book, published by NUS Press in 2016, but it has made a strong impact, 14 book reviews published to date, and another 40 in the works. We launch Writing the Modern at the National Art Gallery in Malaysia, five days after the General Election, and learn that NUS Press author Jomo KS has been named to the Council of Eminent Persons advising Malaysia’s new Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad. (We also get some work done on a book project on the election outcome, planned for 2019).



Conference season has started, and our events team is feeling the stretch. Peter addresses 600 book editors at a conference hosted by Zhejiang University Press in Hangzhou, China. Dorothy Wong launches her new book, Buddhist Pilgrim-Monks as Agents of Cultural and Artistic Transmission, at the Sackler-Freer Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA. We have three simultaneous book and journal events in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore on June 30th, including a full house launch of a new edition of Paul Kratoska’s The Japanese Occupation of Malaya and Singapore, 1941–45: A Social and Economic History in Malaysia.


Peter and Lervinia display new and recent titles at the Asian Studies Association of Australia meeting in Sydney, and enjoy a launch of the latest books in our ASAA Southeast Asian Studies series. Pallavi and Paul attend the AAS-in-Asia meeting in New Delhi, and both appear on a Roundtable on “Getting Published” that Paul organized, with fellow panellists from the Journal of Asian Studies and Oxford University Press.

"A year has no revelations,
it must come and go
making some older, some younger by their absence."

Arthur Yap, See The Collected Poems of Arthur Yap, published 2013.