Today, I want to share the artwork that graces the end papers of the North American edition of The Infinite Library and Other Stories. The digital artwork (below) is called “Panopticon”, 2019 and is by Filipino artist Marius Black (@manilaukiyoe), whose work is often inspired by Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints. The end papers actually use the black and white version of this work which you can also see as the new masthead of my author website.
Thank you also to the Pushcart-nominated writer and 2020 Felipe P. De Alba Fellow, Jemma Wei for hosting the event ,and to the wonderful Monique Truong, winner of the 2004 PEN/Robert Bingham Award, and best selling author of The Book of Salt, Bitter in the Mouth, and The Sweetest Fruits for judging the entries to Singapore Unbound‘s first flash fiction contest (the prompt of which was the title of my book). Congratulations to all the winners:
First prize: “A Room with a Point of View,” by Masturah Alatas (Italy).
Second prize: “This Is a Nice Hotel,” by Olivia Djawoto (Singapore).
Third Prize: “Devotion,” by Shuchi (Singapore).
Honorable Mention: “How Fucky Am I To Be Loved,” by Aaric Tan Xiang Yeow (Singapore).
Lastly, thank you to all who submitted entries and to all those who spent their Saturday evening with us!
“Unable to leave home due to circuit breaker measures or even set foot outside your room due to a home quarantine order? Escape your physical confines through the “uniquely portable magic” of books, as author Stephen King puts it. Here are 10 works of fiction that contain worlds within worlds for you to wander.“
“The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” (1950) by C.S. Lewis
“Neverwhere” (1996) by Neil Gaiman
“Sophia and the Utopia Machine” (2018) by Judith Huang
“His Dark Materials” (1995 to 2000) by Philip Pullman
“Howl’s Moving Castle” (1986) by Diana Wynne Jones
“The Star-Touched Queen” (2016) by Roshani Chokshi
“The Night Circus” (2011) by Erin Morgenstern
“The Eyre Affair” (2001) by Jasper Fforde
“The Infinite Library and Other Stories” (2017, Math Paper Press) by Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
“Neverending Story (1979, translated 1983) by Michael Ende (translated by Ralph Manheim)
Happy to be in such distinguished company. Thank you for including my book!
Between 11 to 13 May, 2020 there will be a sale of all Math Paper Press Titles at BooksActuallyshop.com. Use the code MPP40 when you shop at the online store to get a 40% discount. They deliver internationally.
n.b. Thank you also to Jason Erik Lundberg for the PDF scan above.
THE INFINITE LIBRARY AND OTHER STORIES (2017, Math Paper Press)
Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
This fantastical collection of 17 stories alludes to Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges’s idea of an infinite library that contains every book that could possibly be written. The stories flit from world to world – from an enigmatic map shop to an uprising on a spaceship and to a Bukit Batok housing block where the inhabitants are being slowly but relentlessly transformed into living mathematical equations.
Support local bookstores this pandemic quarantine period. They are a treasure to local communities and they need your help more than ever.
Iconic Singapore bookshop Bookactually‘s physical store may be temporarily closed, but let’s continue to support them and their three crazy feline deities online.
Things are not looking very bright for the world right now. The daily cycle of bad news and the challenges of being locked away wear out both our bodies and souls. It is precisely at this time that we need to remember that books can offer a great degree of comfort through the welcome distraction of entertainment, and more importantly, through their accumulated knowledge and wisdom.
Moreover, they also offer hope through dark days. Hope that whatever problems facing us in life, there is a book somewhere that will help deal with it. Until the world reaches a new normal, let’s all ride out this difficult period with a book in hand (or two, or ten).
Copies of the first printing ran out shortly before the 2019 Singapore Writers Festival and the few paperbacks floating around were going for an astonishing USD$35 (SGD$49) each. I am happy to note that you can now buy a brand new copy at the BooksActuallyShop for much less, at only USD$13.35 (SGD$19). If you buy 3 other books, the three cats who run the store, Cake, Pico and Lemon (and their human assistant Kenny Leck) will provide free shipping in Singapore.
“Lovingly spun and told with a keen eye on familial relationships, as well as the inexorable desires of humankind, these stories signal that Ocampo may well be becoming the gold standard in South-east Asian speculative fiction.” – Clara Chow, book review in the Singapore Straits Times.
“Fundamentally, The Infinite Library and Other Stories is a book about possibility, limitation, and the boundary between them. In imagining alternative possibilities and stretching them to the point of snapping, Victor Fernando Ocampo engages in an act of profound political importance, aesthetic significance, and philosophical rigor that is a serious pleasure to ingest.” – Deven Philbrick, prose editor for the Seattle Review writing for Singapore Unbound
“The ideas that power this collection are not just incredibly imaginative, they also weave a hybrid crossing through magical realism, allegory and science fiction, that ‘synchronicity’ Ocampo mentions in one of his stories.” – Elaine Chew, interview at the Asian Books Blog
I was surprised to learn that my book, The Infinite Library And Other Stories, was recently featured by the Centre for Strategic Futures on their Recommended Reads site on LinkedIn. The CSF is a think tank under the office of the Prime Minister of Singapore. Thank you so much to Ms Liana Tang, Deputy Head of CSF for her wonderful review!
“…what is most striking is that these stories form a continuum of the Filipino diaspora from history into a hopeful future, investigating how separation has affected its members, and how in turn they have affected their host communities. This creates a deep and lingering connection between all the stories in the collection, through aspects of religion, language, time, and literature.”
Literary journalist, architect and P.H.D. student Sandro Lau, writes a great review of two short story collections — my book The Infinite Library And Other Stories, and This Is How You Walk On The Moon, a collection of Speculative Fiction edited by Patricia Karunungan, Samuel Caleb Wee and Wong Wen Pu. You can read the review here.
Singaporean writers, artists, and thinkers, living in Singapore and abroad were asked by the editors of Singapore Unbound for their favorite read of the year. Thank you to Singapore Literature Prize winner Ng Yi-Sheng for selecting my book.
Ng Yi-Sheng, poet, playwright, and fictionist. The Infinite Library and Other Stories by Victor Fernando R. Ocampo (Singapore: Math Paper Press, 2017). This may be the best collection of spec fic stories I’ve ever read by a Singapore-based author. The tales are wonderfully baroque, from a steampunk vision of Filipino national hero José Rizal at a naturist colony to a post-apocalyptic tale of a man cultivating crops and a digital transmitter in the world’s last library. Ocampo takes risks with form—stories are told with multiple endings, in the form of archaeological surveys and in SMS-speak—but manages to make all his tales share a single universe, with the same immortal characters and references (including the eponymous library) popping up in different plots. (I’m also intrigued by how Ocampo complicates our conceptions of Singaporean literature: he began writing in Singapore and is active in the local literary scene, but his fiction reflects his background as a cosmopolitan citizen of the Philippines. He’s got a south-south biculturalism thing going on, and it’s awesome.)
Coincidentally, my favorite Singaporean book of 2018 is Yi-Sheng’s exquisitely surreal Lion City Stories (Epigram, 2018).
“The distinction between literary and genre fiction has been the topic of much debate in recent years. How the distinction ought to be made and whether the distinction is ultimately useful at all are questions with which many people interested in contemporary fiction are deeply engaged. Although a consensus on the answers certainly does not exist, one significant result of the questions having been posed is a reluctance to dismiss universally so-called genre writers as peddlers of formulaic fictions designed for quick consumption and simple, mass appeal. Science-fiction, for example, is now more than ever taken seriously as literary art. Its potential for imagining alternative realities, for conceiving of other possibilities for organizing a world, makes it a genre with the capacity for profound philosophic investigation. Writers like Samuel R. Delany, Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Thomas Disch, and Joanna Russ are increasingly accepted as towering figures of English-language letters. Victor Fernando Ocampo, author of The Infinite Library and Other Stories, has written a book that puts him among their rank.
Fundamentally, The Infinite Library and Other Stories is a book about possibility, limitation, and the boundary between them. In imagining alternative possibilities and stretching them to the point of snapping, Victor Fernando Ocampo engages in an act of profound political importance, aesthetic significance, and philosophical rigor that is a serious pleasure to ingest. ”
A great big ‘Thank you!” to everyone who has read my book and and an even bigger shout-out to those who have sent me kind words over social media — especially to the three excellent folks below who took the time to write me reviews:
(1) First there is vlogger Rachel Tan who does her Rachel’s Now Reading reviews on Youtube. You can check out here video here .
(2) I am a big fan of Ng Yi-Sheng‘s work, whether it be his poetry, stories, performances or his important advocacy work for LGBTQ issues. Thank you for spending some time to read my stories!
(3) Lastly, thank you to the anonymous BooksActually Elf that did the review for “The Infinite Library And Other Stories”. You can read it here.
You can get copies of my book delivered to you by BooksActually here.