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S’pore novella on 100 best fantasy books list

Neon Yang's The Black Tides Of Heaven makes it to Time magazine's 'All Time' list, along with C.S. Lewis' classic.

Time magazine has included a book by a Singaporean author, Neon Yang’s 2017 novella The Black Tides Of Heaven, on its list of The 100 Best Fantasy Books Of All Time.

The list, which was published last Thursday, ranges from the 9th century to the present day. It was based off nominations by a panel of celebrated fantasy authors including Neil Gaiman, Marlon James, N.K. Jemisin and George R.R. Martin.

Panellists did not nominate their own works.

On the list are C.S. Lewis’ 1950 children’s classic The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe; Jin Yong’s Chinese martial arts epic Legends Of The Condor Heroes (represented by A Hero Born, the 2018 English translation of its first volume); and Tomi Adeyemi’s West African-inspired young adult novel Children Of Blood And Bone (2018).

The Black Tides Of Heaven opens the Tensorate quartet of novellas, which were published under the name JY Yang.

Set in a South-east Asian-influenced fantasy world, it follows twins Mokoya and Akeha, who are born to the powerful Protector of the kingdom.

Mokoya has visions of the future while Akeha has the gift, or “slackcraft”, to manipulate elements in the natural world.

In 2018, it was a Best Novella finalist for both the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, making Yang one of the first Singaporeans to be shortlisted for both awards.

Yang welcomed the diversity of the Time list and its attempt to redefine the literary canon.

“I think we’re beginning to move away from traditional ideas of who can succeed as a fantasy writer,” said the 37-year-old. “The Black Tides Of Heaven was a deeply personal book for me, encapsulating a lot of my feelings about gender and defying the expectations that our elders place upon us.

“To have it named on a list of the greatest fantasy books of all time, which includes books I grew up with and books that inspired me to become a writer in the first place – it means more than I could possibly say.”

Earlier this year, Yang scored a six-figure book deal with publisher Tor Books for a new space opera trilogy, The Nullvoid Chronicles. The first novel, The Genesis Of Misery, is planned for publication in 2022.

Yang described it as “Joan of Arc (the 15th-century French saint who led an army after having visions of angels) with giant robots”.

“The Genesis Of Misery has been an immense labour for me. I’ve rewritten it from scratch several times and I am still rewriting it as we speak, actually.

“It’s the first time I’ve written anything of this length and scope and there’s definitely been a learning curve. I’m going for something a bit more on the fun side this time, something that entertains as well as provokes.”

This article was originally published in The Straits Times

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