In The Last Immigrant by Lau Siew Mei, an Australian born and raised in Singapore, Ismael battles loss and isolation in a nation increasing intolerant towards migrants.
Ismael, like his creator, is a Singaporean migrant to Australia where he’s established an ordinary life in the suburbs. His work is dull and unfulfilling and does not promise any change or promotion, though it significant as it is in the immigration department deciding who to allow into “Fortress Australia”.
When his neighbour – a friend – commits suicide, Ismail is set adrift on an emotional journey through his Iranian and Peranakan heritage, his stint in the United States and his Australian present.
I found the most poignant aspect of the book to be the death of his wife Nat, who eschews modern cancer treatment for prayer and homeopathic treatment. It’s a slow and painful death and perhaps the strongest element of the book.
After Ismael’s wife’s death, his daughter abandons him almost immediately and his cat disappears. I felt that this second section was distinctly weaker than the first. An onslaught of characters pushes Ismael to the side and I began to wonder whose story was being told. Elements of the supernatural enter and I felt they were not very well blended into the narrative.
Nonetheless, it’s a good addition to the Singapore literary canon and was longlisted for the 2016 Epigram Books Fiction Prize. I’d recommend it to those who like a touch of mysticism with their books.
Julian Barnes is one of my favourite writers. Before reading The Only Story, I listened to an interview with Julian Barnes on Open Book by Mariella Frostrup on BBC Radio. It whetted my appetite, Julian Barnes is as eloquent on the page as he is on paper. Continue reading “Review: The Only Story”
“Please remember that this is a work of fiction.” AG Mogan implores the reader in her prologue. Indeed we must, Adolf Hitler is one of the most hated men in history – Mogan should be commended for her bravery before anything else. Continue reading “Review: The Secret Journals of Adolf Hitler: The Anointed”
While Young Adult is not one of the genres I set out to review, I was drawn to it because it was a novella – one of my favourite forms of literature. Bloom; A Monster Love Novella by Desdemona Wren Continue reading “Review: Bloom by Desdemona Wren”
My first Amazon review, excuse me as I hiccough with joy. Small Stupid Things is available here.
I decided to post a screenshot here as, apparently, reviews disappear off Amazon. Also as a celebration.
Thank you Desdemona Wren, author of Bloom, A Monster Love Novella
Does a pond of standing water actually suck children into the deep or does it represent something even more sinister? David Castleton’s book is welcome reminder that books that don’t make it to the bestseller lists can be just engaging. The Standing Water straddles the fine line between gothic, near horror fiction, while throwing us enough clues to remind us that it is set in real life. Continue reading “Review: The Standing Water.”