Superb A riveting set of interconnected stories, mostly but not only about life in Singapore and beyond it, told with precision, genuineness and feeling Tiang has the short story form down pat he sucks you in with never before told plotlines, and keeps you there with style, substance and, perhaps the hardest to do well humour These stories were such fun, and so satisfying, to read The first two were the weakest in terms of plot, but all are packed with beautifully written off kilter experiences and canny micro insights into topics many of us have thought about but perhaps been unable to articulate so delicately My favourite was the only previously unpublished story Tick, whose comic realist description of writers bloc left me literally LOL ing at every juncture.Surely this marks the entrance of a wonderful new voice into the sphere of SingLit Must read Caveat I know Jeremy personally, and like him Make what you will of how this has affected the bias of this review I myself prefer to see it the other way i m now incredibly honoured to be friends with someone whose skills as not just a translator but also a writer are so formidable. A well written and engaging collection of stories about Singaporeans on the island and abroad At first, I found many of the stories too cynical, and I appreciate criticisms I ve read about the book being too focused on the lives of the privileged I was slowly drawn in by the writing and characters I particularly liked the story National Day, about foreign construction workers who go to St John s Island and are rudely castigated by a Singaporean church group for camping without a permit. Solid debut collection, with many of the short stories featuring the same characters The comment s been made a couple of times that it sounds like there s a novel in there somewhere struggling to get out while I do like the conceit in a short story collection, I definitely felt that part of the reason many people seized on It could be a novel is that many of the stories don t turn on their own discrete axis they re plotless, they re psychological, introverted little character sketches.Which is all to the well and good Tiang s goal is arguably to examine aimlessness, identities suspended in the act of motion It s just that after a while I found these dissatisfactions frustrating to read For the same reason, I enjoyed the stories featuring Sophia and her husband Nicholas, particularly the first and last of the collection Sharp, satirical character sketches that feel like Tiang isn t afraid to caricature instead of psychologise For this reason they were my favourite in an otherwise highly competent collection that sometimes felt rather adrift. jeremy tiang attempts to write from a range of perspectives voices, but locating characters in various cities across the world bangkok, china, new york, germany etc does not make them different or diverse the stories came across as hollow, lacking intimacy or heart.the worst kind of characters feature in this book ones utterly unaware of their privilege in turn it came across as though the author was not aware of that the way his own privilege informs his characters the singaporeans here are the creamy layer skimmed off the top of society well off, well educated, well traveled their reflections on singapore what it means to be a singaporean come from the privilege of having lived elsewhere if i were to give him the benefit of the doubt and concede that that might have been intentional, that he wanted to portray them that way as a form of criticism of singaporean mindset society, that intentionality didn t come across finally, close to a third of the stories maybe even half were written from the perspective of females he failed to effectively inhabit their voice, it read like this is what i think a woman would think if she were in this position i would not recommend. Shortlisted For The Singapore Literature PrizeFor English FictionA Woman Fleeing Her Previous Existence Meets A Fellow Singaporean On An Overnight Train In Norway A Foreign Worker Is Decapitated In An HDB Building Site Accident A Singaporean Wife Must Negotiate Beijing As Her British Husband Awaits A Heart Transplant And In Different Corners Of The World, Singaporeans And Exiles Mark National Day In Their Own WaysJeremy Tiang S Debut Collection Weaves Together The Lives Of Its Characters Across The World From Switzerland, Norway, Germany, China, Canada, Thailand, New York City And Back To Singapore These Wry, Unsettling Stories Ask How We Decide Where We Belong, And What Happens To Those Who Don T Of all the short stories in this book, I like National Day a lot I was able to feel the emotions by these bangladeshi bhaiyya It was a bit weird at first, to be reading I built that but I realised it s true Sure, we do have the architects, URA officers etc but the people who are directly involved in building these are the bhaiyyas at least majority of them doLook, look at them running away from their own birthday party, what kind of people are they, that would never happen back at home I have mixed feelings on this Holidays are meant to be rest days for almost all working adults and sometimes, it s being utilised by going to other places other than staying home The National Day Parade is always in the evening so morning and afternoon can be spent at other places and when it s nearing the evening, find a place to watch it together with family and friends The ending of this story though sigh Why did Neelish do that Giving up is not the way. Superb astute Assured. Having grown up in Singapore and been living overseas for the past 6 years as a student, I found many of the characters in Jeremy s book easily relatable, and I suspect many other overseas Singaporeans will feel the same I thoroughly enjoyed Jeremy s writing style, and fully appreciated many of the hints of Singaporean ness that so eloquently captured a lot of the country s flavour The only downside is that I found myself cravingwhat happens to these characters after the story ends His stories are so full of life that you cannot help but wish that he had written a full novel on each of the characters and their stories. Another excellent publication by Epigram.These short stories woven by some repeated characters paint a real picture of Singapore and the transglobal Singaporean.My particular favourite was the one of the foreign workers and their perception of Singapore and Singaporeans Everyone should read it It will make us view the people who help build and maintain our country differently. Beautiful set of stories that are the very making of a Collective Memory.
Jeremy Tiang is the author of State of Emergency 2017, finalist for the 2016 Epigram Books Fiction Prize and It Never Rains on National Day 2015, shortlisted for the 2016 Singapore Literature Prize He won the Golden Point Award for Fiction in 2009 for his story Trondheim He also writes and translates plays, including A Dream of Red Pavilions, The Last Days of Limehouse, A Son Soon by Xu Nu
- 220 pages
- It Never Rains on National Day
- Jeremy Tiang
- 12 October 2019 Jeremy Tiang