Hard at Work: Life in Singapore
Edited by Gerard Sasges and Ng Shi Wen
with a Foreword by Teo You Yenn
Have you ever wondered what your barista is thinking as she makes your morning coffee? What’s it like to be a successful restaurateur in a ruthlessly competitive market? How did a young Thai woman come to work in a hostess bar? Is an academic ghostwriter undermining or shoring up a world-famous education system? How does a drag performer explain her profession to her conservative parents? And what does an elderly tissue vendor make of the momentous changes she’s seen in Singapore since independence?
In Hard at Work, sixty people talk about work and life in contemporary Singapore. Their stories shed light not just on Singapore’s present but also its past and its future, and reveal the nation as a place where people from around the world work hard to survive and sometimes thrive in a modern global city. The book offers readers a unique opportunity to look beyond the nation’s iconic skyline and gleaming surfaces to explore the diverse experiences of work and life in Singapore today.
“Their stories provide as good a glimpse of life as it really is in Singapore: raw, unfiltered, and in flowing Singlish.”
- Han Fook Kwang, The Straits Times
"What an important effort this is for our highly diverse, changing society: to hear and to listen to strangers' stories, as directly as possible. Besides giving voice to working people, Hard at Work taps into the current discussions about inequality in Singapore society, and exposes the untidiness and struggle that ordinary workers face."
- Ho Kwon Ping, Chairman, Singapore Management University
"The volume takes the readers on a journey into the layered, complex world of work, portraying the pathos and veracities of working lives without romanticizing or glorifying these. Against the global backdrop of growing inequalities and declining share of labour’s income, this volume is compelling and one which disturbs, informs and inspires - excellent reasons to render this a must-read text."
- Vineeta Sinha, Head, Department of Sociology, NUS
Gerard Sasges received a PhD from UC Berkeley in 2006. In 2012 he joined the National University of Singapore where he is an associate professor in the Department of Southeast Asian Studies.
Ng Shi Wen is a photographer, educator and chronicler of everyday life. She is the founder of Photo Rikiki and has taught at the National University of Singapore and School of the Arts, Singapore.
Publication Year: 2019
416pp / 229 x 152mm 60 images, full colour