A history of embarrassments in the garden begins a meditation on the nature of memory. Unfolding alongside notes and marginalia, a ghost story becomes a reflection on grief, remembrance, and identity. Failed writing projects coalesce into a contemplation on the limits of our narratives. The haunting essays in The Inventors explore the stories that we tell ourselves—and the ways in which we constantly invent and reinvent our/selves.
• From laments on urban change and ruminations about the garden to reflections on writing and meditations on grief, Daryl Li’s debut collection of literary nonfiction charts a path through topics as diverse as ecology, war, mourning, and urban transformation.
• Loosely dubbed “essays”, the pieces blend disparate genres such as personal essay, cultural criticism, short fiction, and photography, exploring the formal possibilities of the essayistic approach.
• The playful approach to structure and form is emblematised by “Ghost Stories”, an unusual piece in which a short story unfolds alongside interjections—recollections, notes, and marginalia—to produce a self-reflexive study of creative work.
• These essays engage with themes of trauma, memory, and identity, describing how our experiences are filtered through archetypes, stereotypes, and myth—and how memory and identity are constructed in our acts of storytelling and fictionalisation.
• Lyrical, introspective, and experimental, The Inventors is a unique work of creative nonfiction in Singapore’s literary scene.
The Physics of Memory
1. One: Interloper
2. Two: The Hall of Echoes
3. Three: Dispatches
2. Ghost Stories
Daryl Li is a writer of literary fiction and nonfiction based in Singapore. His first book, The Inventors, is a collection of creative nonfiction published by Rosetta Cultures. His work has been longlisted for the Australian Book Review Calibre Essay Prize and Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, and been a finalist in the Georgia Review Prose Prize. He has won a Golden Point Award for short fiction. His work can be found in publications including Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, NANG, OF ZOOS, Unwinnable Monthly, and Gastronomica.
He can be found on Instagram, Twitter, and Threads at @nonstickpanda.