Daren Shiau



Daren Shiau Vee Lung (b. 1971, Singapore–) is a writer, lawyer and an environmental activist. He won the Singapore Literature Prize Commendation Award in 1998 for his debut novel, Heartland. Shiau also received the National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award in 2002.1 In addition to his literary career, Shiau is a partner with the law firm, Allen and Gledhill. Over the last two decades, he has held appointments in the Films Appeal Committee of the Board of Film Censors, the boards of the Singapore Environment Council and the National Parks Board, as well as the supervisory panel of the former Ministry of Community Development’s Feedback Unit.2

Early life
Shiau was educated at Raffles Institution, and subsequently studied humanities at Raffles Junior College as a Public Service Commission Humanities Scholar.3 During his college days he won annual literary prizes, and was chosen to take a special paper on metaphysical poetry for the General Certificate of Education (GCE) A Level examination.4 He went on to read law at the National University of Singapore (NUS), and graduated on the Dean’s List in 1996. Shiau started writing during his varsity days, and won the top prize at the NUS Literary Society Competition 1993/1994.5

Literary accomplishments
In 1998, Shiau won the Singapore Literature Prize Commendation Award for his debut novel, Heartland.6 As part of the award, the work was published by SNP Editions the following year.7 The novel, which took three years to complete, explores the paradox of rootedness and rootlessness in Singapore through the coming-of-age story of a Singaporean boy.8

The novel was well received and has since been used in an introductory course on Singapore and postcolonial literature at the National Institute of Education.9 It was also selected as a prescribed text for the GCE O- and N-Level examinations for 2007.10 Singapore’s flagship daily newspaper The Straits Times selected Heartland as one of their top 10 reads for 1999.11

In 2000, Shiau published his first collection of poems, Peninsular: Archipelagos and Other Islands, which examines the relationship between time, space and national identity in Singapore.12 For his literary talent, The Arts Magazine hailed Shiau as “among the most exciting of the post-1965 generation of writers”.13

Shiau has been invited to speak or read at various international conferences and reading tours. These include the China Institute in America (New York), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge), Victorian Writers Centre and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.14 He was also a visiting writer at the University of California, Berkeley in 2003.15 His works have been translated into other languages including Mandarin and Italian, and also adapted for recitals and media art performances.16 Shiau served as a writing mentor for the Ministry of Education’s Creative Arts Programme Mentorship Scheme and for the National Arts Council’s Mentor Access Project.17

Other activities
Shiau was a Fulbright scholar, and an alumnus of the East-West Centre in Honolulu, Hawaii.18 An active environmentalist, he led the successful Water for Somalia project with the group, Against the Violation of Earth . He also served as chairman of the Youth Environmental Network of Singapore, council member of the National Youth Council,19 member of the Singapore Environmental Council, which reviews the Singapore Green Plan, and is a recognised international expert on environmental law.20

Interests and inspirations
Shiau sees himself first and foremost as a poet. He enjoys the works of Milan Kundera, Albert Camus, Haruki Murakami, J. M. Coetzee and Wislawa Szymborska, and draws the inspiration for his works from film and music.21

Awards
1993:
  Green Leaf Award, Ministry of the Environment 22

1998: Singapore Literature Prize Commendation Award (Fiction), for Heartland
1999: The Straits Times 10 Best Books of the Year, for Heartland

2000: Outstanding Young Person of Singapore Award23
2000: Singapore Youth Award (Community Work)24
2001: Commonwealth Youth Program Asia Award for Excellence in Youth Work25
2002: Young Artist Award, National Arts Council
2003: Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation Award26
2005: NAC Golden Point Award Short Story, English Category, second prize27
2005: Elephant & Coral Writing Competition, first prize28
2007: Elephant & Coral Writing Competition, first prize29

Works
Literary

1999: Heartland30
2000: Peninsular: Archipelagos and Other Islands31
2007:
 Velouria32

Others
1998: Communication and the Environment: Influencing Social Attitudes Towards Being Green33

Family
Wife: Christine Lee34



Author

Gracie Lee



References
1. National Arts Council. (2002). Young Artist Award: Full list of past recipients. Retrieved 2016, September 29 from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/naccorp/dam/jcr:798c3ca9-b1fa-44cf-8254-1c6327edd4d3
2. Allen & Gledhill. (n.d). Partner profile: Daren Shiau. Retrieved 2016, September 30 from Allen & Gledhill Singapore) website: http://www.allenandgledhill.com/pages/partner_profile.aspx?partnerid=85; Daren V. L. Shiau – Biography and brief introduction. (n.d). Retrieved 2016, September 29 from Contemporary Postcolonial and Postimperial Literature in English website: http://www.postcolonialweb.org/singapore/literature/fiction/shiau/bio.html; Crest Secondary School. (2012). Board of directors. Retrieved 2016, September 30 from Crest Secondary School website: http://www.crestsec.edu.sg/index.php/menu-who-we-are/menu-board-of-directors/11-cat-bod/92-content-daren
3. Chettiar, K. (2001, March). A lawyer and a leader – Caring for the community and environment. Law Gazette. Retrieved 2016, September 25 from Law Gazette website: http://www.lawgazette.com.sg/2001-3/Mac01-focus4.htm
4. National Book Development Council. (2007). Programmes. Retrieved 2016, September 29 from National Book Development Council website: http://bookcouncil.sg/images/uploads/programmes/misc/Read_Asia_sessions.pdf
5. Lee, S. (2015, November 4). Daren Shiau: Critical introduction. Retrieved 2016, September 2 from Poetry.SG website: https://www.poetry.sg/browse/daren-shiau/biography
6. National Book Development Council. (2016). Singapore Literature Prize: 1998 winners. Retrieved 2016, September 30 from National Book Development Council website: http://bookcouncil.sg/awards/singapore-literature-prize
7. A bumper crop of 4 winners. (1998, November 28). The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Chua, D. (2002, October 12). Daren’s theme is rooted in rootlessness. The Straits Times, p. 18; Shiau, D. (2002, October 12). Heartland didn’t turn out to be gone case. The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Tom, K. (2005, October 30). BookendsThe Straits Times, p. 26; Wong, T. (2002, January 12). Reprint brings hope to writers. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Almenoar, M. (2006, July 22). Revised literature syllabus to get more students on board. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Ong, S. F. (2000, January 1). A geek hero to see the era out. The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Cheong, F. (2000, June 17). A flock of words in sure hands. The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Leong, L. G. (Ed.) (2011). Daren Shiau. In Literary Singapore: A directory of contemporary writing in Singapore. Singapore: National Arts Council, p. 44. (Call no.: RSING: 809.895957 LIT)
14. Daren V. L. Shiau – Biography and brief introduction. (n.d). Retrieved 2016, September 29 from Contemporary Postcolonial and Postimperial Literature in English website: http://www.postcolonialweb.org/singapore/literature/fiction/shiau/bio.html
15. Yap, S. (2009, March 1). Long-time green activist. The Straits Times, p. 64. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Daren V. L. Shiau – Biography and brief introduction. (n.d). Retrieved 2016, September 29 from Contemporary Postcolonial and Postimperial Literature in English website: http://www.postcolonialweb.org/singapore/literature/fiction/shiau/bio.html
17. National Arts Council. (2008). New initiatives for mentorship programme to nurture emerging writers [Press release]. Retrieved 2016, September 29 from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/media-resources/press-releases/New-Initiatives-for-Mentorship-Programme.html; Daren V. L. Shiau – Biography and brief introduction. (n.d). Retrieved 2016, September 29 from Contemporary Postcolonial and Postimperial Literature in English website: http://www.postcolonialweb.org/singapore/literature/fiction/shiau/bio.html
18. Daren V. L. Shiau – Biography and brief introduction. (n.d). Retrieved 2016, September 29 from Contemporary Postcolonial and Postimperial Literature in English website: http://www.postcolonialweb.org/singapore/literature/fiction/shiau/bio.html
19. Chalam, S. (1996, May 3). Daren Shiau: A chairman’s yen for the ‘green’ cause. The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Chettiar, K. (2001, March). A lawyer and a leader – Caring for the community and environment. Law Gazette. Retrieved 2016, September 25 from Law Gazette website: http://www.lawgazette.com.sg/2001-3/Mac01-focus4.htm
20. Wicks, P. (2004). Emergent voices in Singaporean fiction in English. Asian Profile, 32(1), 31–40. (Call no.: RSING 950.05 AP); National Parks Board. (2004). Annual report 2003/2004, p. 3. Retrieved 2016, October 7 from National Parks Board website: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/~/media/nparks-real-content/about-us/annual-report/archive/2003-2004/ar0403membersoftheboard.pdf
21. Daren V. L. Shiau: Literary and cultural influences upon his work. (n.d.). Retrieved 2016, September 29 from Contemporary Postcolonial and Postimperial Literature in English website: http://www.postcolonialweb.org/singapore/literature/fiction/shiau/litrel.html
22. Two NUS students win awards in new youth category. (1993, November 8). The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Frances, J. (2001, June 19). Optimistic living. Today, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Outstanding youths get prestigious awards. (2000, July 3). The Straits Times, p. 31. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Lee, R. (2004, November 6). Man with strong views on issues. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Daren V. L. Shiau – Biography and brief introduction. (n.d). Retrieved 2016, September 29 from Contemporary Postcolonial and Postimperial Literature in English website: http://www.postcolonialweb.org/singapore/literature/fiction/shiau/bio.html
27. National Arts Council. (2016, November 28). Golden Point Award. Retrieved 2016, December 9 from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/events/golden-point-award.html
28. Tom, K. (2005, August 4). Inspiration for poem springs up in a cabThe Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. Chia, A. (2007, December 9). Creative instinct. The Straits Times, p. 71. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. 
30. Shiau, D. (1999). Heartland. Singapore: Raffles. (Call no.: RSING S823 SHI)
31. Shiau, D. (2000). Peninsular: Archipelagos and other islands. Singapore: Ethos Books. (Call no.: RSING S821 SHI)
32. Shiau, D. (2007). Velouria. Singapore: Firstfruits Publications. (Call no.: RSING S823 SHI)
33. Shiau, D. (2000). Communication and the environment: Influencing social attitudes towards being green. Singapore: Ministry of the Environment. (Call no.: RSING 363.70525 SHI)
34. Chettiar, K. (2001, March). A lawyer and a leader – Caring for the community and environment. Law Gazette. Retrieved 2016, September 25 from Law Gazette website: http://www.lawgazette.com.sg/2001-3/Mac01-focus4.htm



The information in this article is valid as at 2008 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Writers
Environmentalists--Singapore--Biography
Personalities
Poets--Singapore--Biography
Poets
Language and literature>>Literatures>>East and Southeast Asian literature>>Singapore literature
Award winners--Singapore--Biography
Shiau, Daren V. L.--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies>>Authors
Authors, Singaporean--Biography