Singapore

Aunty Lee's Delights

“No mere whodunnit—Aunty Lee’s Delights sparkles with insight…Rosie Lee is a terrifically originally heroine.”

“This delectable and witty mystery introduces Rosie ‘Aunty’ Lee, feisty widow, amateur sleuth, and proprietor of Singapore's best-loved home-cooking restaurant.

After losing her husband, Rosie Lee could have become one of Singapore's ‘tai tai,’ an idle rich lady. Instead, she is building a culinary empire from her restaurant, Aunty Lee's Delights, where spicy Singaporean meals are graciously served to locals and tourists alike. But when a body is found in one of Singapore's tourist havens and one of her guests fails to show at a dinner party, Aunty Lee knows that the two events are likely connected.

The murder and disappearance throws together Aunty Lee's henpecked stepson, Mark, his social-climbing wife, Selina, a gay couple whose love is still illegal in Singapore, and an elderly Australian tourist couple whose visit may mask a deeper purpose. Investigating the murder are Police Commissioner Raja and Senior Staff Sergeant Salim, who quickly discover that Aunty Lee's sharp nose for intrigue can sniff out clues that elude law enforcers.

Wise, witty, and charming, Aunty Lee's Delights is a spicy mystery about love, friendship, and food in Singapore, where money flows freely and people of many religions and ethnicities coexist peacefully, but where tensions lurk just below the surface, sometimes with deadly consequences.”

(A special thank you to book club member, Ester Elbert for the suggestion.)

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The Collected Short Stories of Gopal Baratham

“The writer possesses a technically excellent prose style, so smooth that it slips down the reader’s throat like a well-made Singapore Sling.”— The Hindu

“This exciting collection brings together thirty-nine of the late Dr. Gopal Baratham’s characteristic and revered pieces. In his usual blunt, strong and controversial style, Baratham’s socio-political critiques are ‘peopled’ by characters from virtually every background and class—with their frustrated hopes, wild illusions and excesses.

Paired with a stylistic and evolving narrative voice, as seen in dialogue that fluctuates from poetic to quirky, this writer’s ambivalent medium is also his message. Readers are drawn into the depth of his work, and left with a sympathetic, sensitive understanding of events, people, actions and the complexities of relationships

(Submitted by Ivor Watkins, book club moderator.)

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Kappa Quartet

Shortlisted for the Singapore Book Awards (Best Book Cover Design)

Epigram Books Fiction Prize Longlist

”Kevin is a young man without a soul, holidaying in Tokyo; Mr. Five, the enigmatic kappa, is the man he so happens to meet. Little does Kevin know that kappas—the river demons of Japanese folklore—desire nothing more than the souls of other humans.

Set between Singapore and Japan, Kappa Quartet is split into eight discrete sections, tracing the rippling effects of this chance encounter across a host of other characters, connected and bound to one another in ways both strange and serendipitous. Together they ask one another: what does it mean to be in possession of something nobody has seen before?”

After reading this novel, some reviewers have cited a comparison to the author Murakami while others have noted some flashes of suppressed terror more Kafkaesque. Each section narrated by a different character loosely intertwined together is certainly reminiscent of David Mitchell's better work with that same thrill you find in connecting the characters & discovering different facets of the story.

(Submitted by Mia DeGiovine Chaveco, book club co-founder.)

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The Last Lesson of Mrs De Souza

“With its deep probing look at the teaching profession, it unveils a rich array of themes and most compellingly, the nature of perhaps the most noble and difficult of vocations.” - Boey Kim Cheng, author of Clear Brightness

“One last time and on her birthday, Rose de Souza is returning to school to give a final lesson to her classroom of secondary school boys before retiring from her long teaching career. What ensues is an unexpected confession in which she recounts the tragic and traumatic story of Amir, a student from her past who overturned the way she saw herself as a teacher, and changed her life forever.

The stunning first novel from award-winning poet Cyril Wong, The Last Lesson of Mrs de Souza is a tour de force, an exceptional examination of the power of choice and the unreliability of memory.”

(Submitted by Ivor Watkins, book club moderator.)

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Ponti

With perspectives from three different women & a narrative which jumps across different time periods, this novel experiments with an unusual and original construct to reflect the very fractured nature of relationships across space and time.

An award-winning fiction debut about the value of friendships in present-day Singapore—a surprising and powerful portrait of Asia that shows the unique blend of modern and traditional cultures coming together.

’I am Miss Frankenstein, I am the bottom of the bell curve.’ So declares Szu, a teenager living in a dark, dank house, at the beginning of this richly atmospheric and endlessly surprising tale of non-belonging and isolation.

Friendless and fatherless, Szu lives in the shadow of her mother Amisa, once a beautiful actress—who gained fame for her portrayal of a ghost—and now a hack medium performing séances with her sister in a rusty house. When Szu meets the privileged, acid-tongued Circe, an unlikely encounter develops into a fraught friendship that will haunt them both for decades to come.

With remarkable emotional acuity, dark comedy, and in vivid prose, Sharlene Teo’s Ponti traces the suffocating tangle the lives of four misfits, women who need each other as much as they need to find their own way. It is an astounding portrayal of the gaping loneliness of adolescence, the surrealness of the modern city, and the strangeness of living with and loving other people.”

(A special thank you to book club member, Patty Gilles Winpenny for the suggestion.)

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When There Were Tigers in Singapore

“Japan invades and captures the British colony of Singapore in 1942. All Europeans on the island are being interned. Edward Schirmer, the author’s grandfather, faces a dilemma—he is German, but born as a British subject. In a strange stroke of fortune, he finds himself friends with General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the famed ‘Tiger of Malaya’. Seeing the fate of the other Europeans, Edward reluctantly lets the Japanese assume he is a friendly German national. The secret of his true identity remains between the two men only…but when politics removes the protective Yamashita from the picture, betrayal ensues and Edward finds himself in prison, his family scattered.

Using the personal history from his family’s saga & extensive research to confirm his father’s account, the author then details the true-life account of Edward’s son (the author’s father)—a hellish tale of a six year-old boy’s quest for survival, alone on the streets of a war-torn vanquished nation.

Part autobiography, part microhistory of WWII with some lesser-known details of famous figures from the WWII era, but wholly the story of the fight for survival in and after the harshest of wars.

Where everyone is hungry and racial tension is rife.

Where martial law allows the occupiers to summarily execute at will.”

(Submitted by Beth McCrea, book club co-founder.)

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