Joash Moo



Joash Moo Zun Yong (b. 1965, Singapore–) is a novelist and poet and an award-winning illustrator.1 His book, Sisterhood: The Untold Story, published in 1990, explored the transsexual phenomenon in Singapore, while Nannu stirred up a fair amount of controversy over its depiction of sexual politics and sexual roles.2 Apart from writing, Moo is involved in multimedia and art direction as well as the production of educational resources.

Education
Moo attended Anglo-Chinese Primary School from 1972 to 1977, followed by Raffles Institution from 1978 to 1981, before going on to Hwa Chong Junior College (1982–1983).3 He was awarded the Public Service Commission Scholarship, a government teaching scholarship, for his university education at University of East Anglia, United Kingdom.4 He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1987.5 

During Moo’s undergraduate years, he was exposed to liberal topics that would influence many of his future works. His English literature courses covered liberal and unconventional topics such as feminism, pornography, fantasy and horror.

Career
Before turning to writing as a full-time career, Moo held a string of odd-jobs, including stints as a street artist and even construction worker.7 In 1987, he was a part-time tutor at the University of East Anglia.8

Moo returned to Singapore in 1987 to complete his national service. He then tutored at Raffles Junior College before being released from his teaching bond. In 1990, he decided to become a full-time writer and artist, while concurrently giving tuition in English language and literature to supplement his income.9

From 1994 to 1996, Moo worked as a scriptwriter with the then Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS) on television drama serials such as Masters of the Sea, Triple Nine and Growing Up.10 In 1997, an episode that he wrote for Growing Up, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, was selected as a finalist in The New York Festivals competition.11

Moo has served as an educational consultant and multimedia director at iT21, a developer of multimedia software for the education industry.12 He was also head of learning resource at Knowledge Village, and creative director and publisher at Moo’s Productions.13 He had produced educational multimedia resources for children, such as The Fun Way to Music.14

Publications and literary themes
Moo’s interest in the absurd and the workings of the subconscious is evident in his first book, the horror-fantasy The Weird Diary of Walter Woo (1990). Written while serving national service, the book centres on a series of bizarre events that befall Walter Woo, a student from the University of East Anglia, in 1997.15 Set against an atmosphere of fear and based on the author’s experiences in the military barracks, the book uses the macabre to set up a dichotomy between anarchy and order within a satirical framework, reinforced by illustrations and vivid imagery.16 Using composite characters with merged racial traits in a bid to challenge racial stereotypes and adding a host of ghostly apparitions and macabre incidents, the book was influenced by works such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and television series like The Ray Bradbury Theater and The Twilight Zone.17

Moo also self-illustrated The Weird Diary of Walter Woo with black-and-white artwork, possibly influenced by William Blake’s mystic sketches and works by surrealist painter Salvador Dali. Some of his pictures won him the first prize at the Windows of the Mind Art Exhibition (a Singapore Festival of Arts fringe programme) in 1990.18 

In the same year, Moo’s Sisterhood: The Untold Story was published. This book aimed to offer a detailed insight into transsexuality in Singapore. Based on 17 interviews with transsexuals and transvestites, whose diverse occupations ranged from modelling to fashion design and choreography, the book ignited some controversy with its depiction of an alternative lifestyle.19 Although it was criticised for engaging in sensationalism, the book gave a stark portrayal of dilemmas faced by transsexuals when negotiating sexual identity issues, mainstream society, sex-change operations and marriage.20 More than 15,000 copies of the book were sold.21 

In 1992, Moo once again pushed the boundaries of story-telling with Nannu, a collection of poetry, prose and illustrations focusing on sexual fantasies, sexual desire and a subversion of gender roles. Nannu sought to generate awareness of sexual politics and the innate patriarchal prejudices embedded in a conservative social structure, but critics panned it for generating unwarranted sensationalism.22

Moo followed up his interest in the transsexual phenomenon with a subsequent novel Sisterhood: New Moons in San Francisco (1993). Set in San Francisco, the novel depicted a transsexual’s search for love and her romantic escapades.23 

Works
Moo, J. (1990). Sisterhood: The untold story. Singapore: Times Books International. (Not available in NLB holdings)

Moo, J. (1990). The weird diary of Walter Woo. Singapore: Times Books International. (Call no.: RSING S823 MOO)

Moo, J., & Koh, J. (1991). The fun way to music: Theory 1. Singapore: Music Plaza. (Call no.: JRSING 781 MOO)

Moo, J., & Koh, J. (1991). The fun way to music: Theory 2. Singapore: Music Plaza. Available via PublicationSG.

Moo, J. (1992). Nannu. Singapore: Times Books International. (Call no.: RSING S821 MOO)

Moo, J. (1992). Portrait of an author [typescript]. Singapore. (Call no.: RCLOS 823 MOO)

Moo, J. (1993). Sisterhood: New moons in San Francisco. Singapore: Times Books International. (Call no.: RSING C823 MOO)

Moo, J., & Koh, J. (1995). The fun way to music: New theory 1. Singapore: Music Plaza. (Call no.: RSING 781 MOO)

Moo, J., & Ng, S. Y. (2009). Art: Primary 1. Singapore: Pearson/Longman. (Call no.: JRSING 372.5 MOO)

Moo, J., & Lee, F. (2009). Art in life: Lower secondary. Singapore: Pearson Longman. Available via PublicationSG.

Moo, J., & Lee, F. (2009). Art in life: Lower secondary, teacher’s guide. Singapore: Pearson Longman. (Call no.: RSING 707.125957 MOO)

Moo, J., & Ng, S. Y. (2009). Art teacher’s guide. Singapore: Pearson/Longman. (Call no.: RSING 372.5044 MOO)

Awards24
1982: First prize, National University of Singapore Nationwide Essay-writing Competition
1990: First prize, Windows of the Mind Art Competition
1998: Merit prize, Multimedia category, The Singapore Story Competition



Author

Sheena Kumari Singh



References
1. Koh, B. S. (1990, October 20). Moo twists and turns. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Pearson Education South Asia Pte Ltd. (2012). Perfect match art primary 1. Retrieved 2016, August 22 from Pearson website: http://www.pearson.sg/cos/o.x?ptid=176&c=/pearson/locallib&func=view&rid=388
2. Long, S. (1992, September 5). Contrived bombardment. The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Moo, J. (n.d.). My history. Retrieved 2016, August 22 from http://joashmoo.tumblr.com/image/38857753938
4. iT21 team of full-time trained educators. (1998, April 4). The Straits Times, p. 8; Koh, B. S. (1990, October 20). Moo twists and turns. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Moo, J. (n.d.). Degree. Retrieved 2016, August 22 from http://joashmoo.tumblr.com/image/38857753938
6. Koh, B. S. (1990, October 20). Moo twists and turns. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Koh, B. S. (1990, October 20). Moo twists and turns. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Moo, J. (n.d.). Experience. Retrieved 2016, August 22 from http://joashmoo.tumblr.com/image/38857753938
9. Moo, J. (n.d.). Experience. Retrieved 2016, August 22 from http://joashmoo.tumblr.com/image/38857753938; Koh, B. S. (1990, October 20). Moo twists and turns. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Ong, S. F. (1996, October 5). Has 2-year-old TCS grown up? The Straits Times, p. 14; A recipe for success. (1994, October 3). The New Paper, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Moo, J. (n.d.). 24th July 2013. Retrieved 2016, August 22 from http://joashmoo.tumblr.com/image/56339659473; Moo, J. (n.d.). 25th July 2013. Retrieved 2016, August 22 from http://joashmoo.tumblr.com/image/56408215965
11. Moo, J. (n.d.). 12th August 2013. Retrieved 2016, August 22 from http://joashmoo.tumblr.com/image/58048664182
12. Your iT partner for the 21st century. (1996, December 8). The Straits Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Moo, J. (n.d.). Experience. Retrieved 2016, August 22 from http://joashmoo.tumblr.com/image/38857753938
14. Moo, J. (n.d.). 30th April 2013. Retrieved 2016, August 22 from http://joashmoo.tumblr.com/image/49242607937
15. Koh, B. S. (1990, October 20). Moo twists and turns. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Koh, B. S. (1990, October 20). Moo twists and turns. The Straits Times, p. 7; Squalor and horror. (1990, August 31). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Koh, B. S. (1990, October 20). Moo twists and turns. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Koh, B. S. (1990, October 20). Surface treatment. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Koh, B. S. (1990, October 20). Surface treatment. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Moo, J. (n.d.). 26th May 2013. Retrieved 2016, August 22 from http://66.media.tumblr.com/13755fbb49fa54aac9eea4c4b3198ffa/tumblr_mnebrpbtIa1rkriejo1_1280.jpg
20. Koh, B. S. (1990, October 20). Surface treatment. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Yue, A., & Zubillaga-Pow, J. (Eds.). (2012). Queer Singapore: Illiberal citizenship and mediated cultures. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, p. 10. (Call no.: RSING 306.766095957 QUE)
21. Sisterhood: The story that transsexuals prefer to remain untold. (1990, December 10). The Straits Times, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Moo, J. Z. Y. (1992, September 11). Moo on Nannu. The Straits Times, p. 4; Long, S. (1992, September 5). Contrived bombardment. The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Moo, J. (n.d.). 31st March 2013. Retrieved 2016, August 22 from http://joashmoo.tumblr.com/image/46768965177
24. Moo, J. (n.d.). Prizes & awards. Retrieved 2016, August 22 from http://joashmoo.tumblr.com/image/38857753938



The information in this article is valid as at 2011 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
Authors, Singaporean--Biography
Moo, Joash, 1965-
Fiction
Writers
Language and literature>>Literatures>>East and Southeast Asian literature>>Singapore literature
Award winners--Singapore--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies>>Authors
Arts>>Literature>>English (Singapore) Literature>>Fiction