Illustrated Books at the Library

In addition to the academic monographs, reports, etc. that form the mainstay of the ISEAS Library collection, illustrated books in the form of graphic novels and comics are also available at the Library. Illustrated books can serve as a visual medium to record personal or historical events, providing an accessible and easy way for readers to explore a topic they are interested in. In some cases, this format makes information more palatable and easier to understand.

One of the illustrated books in the Library collection is Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle, a travelogue drawn as a book-length comic and published in 2007. The book depicts the author’s experience travelling to and living in Myanmar with his family, where his wife was stationed for about a year in 2005 as part of her job with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders.

Compared to other foreigners in Myanmar who worked for multinational companies, the Delisle family was not as well-off. The author includes anecdotes on adjusting to life in Myanmar, such as trying to beat hot weather with an air-conditioner despite occasional power cuts or intending to sightsee pagodas, only for the adults themselves to say “more pagodas?” On a more serious note, it also touches on the author’s experiences with the level of media censorship of films, magazines and newspapers, as well as the presence of the army in many areas of everyday life.

The author having a “fun math time” with the denominations used
Delisle, Guy. 2009. Burma chronicles. London: Jonathan Cape, Page 89

The stories also touch on the spiritual: towards the end of their stay, the author went on a three-day meditation retreat, at the end of which he felt “more peaceful than ever before, but also very alert”. The book is an interesting retelling of the author’s experience of life and culture in Myanmar at the time.

Getting a gift for a monk
Delisle, Guy. 2009. Burma chronicles. London: Jonathan Cape, Page 100

Another illustrated book in the Library’s collection is Pioneers of Singapore, which pays tribute to prominent pioneers of early Singapore.

One of the pioneers introduced is Aw Boon Haw (1882-1954). Most well-known for starting the Tiger Balm company with his brother Boon Par, he was also a newspaper magnate. One of the papers he started was Sin Chew Jit Poh, which later merged with Nanyang Siang Pau to become Lianhe Zaobao and Lianhe Wanbao. Pioneers of Singapore touches on the basics, but for more information, check out “Sin Chew Jit Poh 50th anniversary souvenir magazine” or “Legend from a jar: the story of Haw Par” to find out more about the Aw brothers. Haw Par Villa is just a 15-minute walk from the Library!

Pioneers of Singapore features Haw Par Villa, a public park that was built by Aw Boon Haw
Lim, Lee Chin. 2004. Pioneers of Singapore. Singapore: Asiapac, Page 47

The book also introduces Lim Nee Soon (1879-1936), another person of interest in early 20th century Singapore. He promoted social and community matters, and was a respected community leader in Singapore. Early in the 19th century, he set up rubber and pineapple plantations along Seletar River, and the area is still called Nee Soon and Yishun after his influence. The Library also has the title A pictorial history of Nee Soon Community which has further, in-depth photographs on the development of Nee Soon.

Another of the pioneers featured in Pioneers of Singapore
Lim, Lee Chin. 2004. Pioneers of Singapore. Singapore: Asiapac, Page 63

Although both the above are illustrated books, the first title presents a personal viewpoint of life as a foreigner in a Southeast Asian country, and in greater detail. The latter title, on the other hand, gives a summary of the different people who, by contributing in their own ways, eventually paved the way to present-day Singapore.

Other illustrated titles available at ISEAS Library include:

Last Train from Tanjong Pagar by Koh Hong Teng
Lutung Kasarung by Ruhiyat S
Gus Dur van Jombang by Heru Prasetia & Edi Jatmiko

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