I had the great pleasure to meet author Clarissa Goenawan at On Rain, a book reading held by Sing Lit Station. Since we had the opportunity to chat about her book, Rainbirds, beforehand, I have to confess to having been biased in her favour when reading it. Continue reading “Review: Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan”
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.
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
Stephanie Suga Chen, a US expatriate based in Singapore and author of Travails of Trailing Spouse that I reviewed here answered a few questions regarding her book and her life.
How much of you, your experiences, your personality, is your characters? Continue reading “Interview with Stephanie Suga Chen”
Being an expat in Singapore myself, I was instantly drawn to Stephanie Suga Chen’s Travails of a Trailing Spouse. Without a decapitated corpse or brutalised domestic worker in sight, Stephanie’s book offers a fresh perspective on the lives of women (and occasionally men) who move to Singapore with their partners and find themselves willingly or unwillingly unemployed. Continue reading “Review: Travails of a Trailing Spouse”