Book review: The Heartsick Diaspora and Other Stories

08 Jan 2020 / 10:15 H.

THIS is a compilation of short stories written by Malaysian born Elaine Chiew that feature the Malaysian-Singaporean diaspora.

Characters range from a brother seeking help from a beguiling translator to find his missing sister during the Japanese Occupation (The Coffin Maker); four writers who find their world turned upside down with the arrival of a handsome Asian writer (The Heartsick Diaspora); a put-upon daughter who discovers her prickly mother’s long kept secret (Run of the Molars); a talented chef who lets another chef take the praise for the sake of business (Chronicles of a Culinary Poseur); and man who has a colourful ghostly encounter (A Thoroughly Modern Ghost of Other Origins).

Other than the fact that the characters come from Malaysia or Singapore, the stories are in no way connected to one another.

Some stories such as The Coffin Maker will draw you in right away, and make you wish there was more. Others, such as the title story, take a bit of thinking.

The characters Chiew writes are mostly relatable. By using local jargon here and there, she keeps things firmly in place and reminds us of where she comes from.

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