Singapore Shelf: How I Met Your Mother in a Geylang kampung

Editors Anitha Devi Pillai and Felix Cheong both contributed stories from their own families in the anthology A View Of Stars.
Editors Anitha Devi Pillai and Felix Cheong both contributed stories from their own families in the anthology A View Of Stars.PHOTOS: MARSHALL CAVENDISH, BINOD THERAT, ST FILE

SINGAPORE - In a special Valentine's Day edition of this monthly feature, The Sunday Times lines up three new home-grown books about love.

Fiction

A VIEW OF STARS

Edited by Anitha Devi Pillai and Felix Cheong

Marshall Cavendish/Paperback/254 pages/$19.99/Available here

In 1933 Penang, a debutante's incredible shoes are the talk of town, but she keeps the identity of her shoemaker a secret.

In present-day Singapore, a New Zealand expatriate, faced with an unplanned pregnancy during Seventh Month, attends a getai concert.

In a future where the flora of the world are endangered species, a young woman with a green thumb called Ixora enrols in flower school.

This anthology is filled with star-crossed love stories by local authors, from veterans Robert Yeo and Meira Chand to recent debut writers such as Yeoh Jo-Ann, Linda Collins and Inez Tan.

Many of these tales are inspired by real love stories. Editors Anitha Devi Pillai and Felix Cheong both contributed stories from their own families.

Cheong, 55, did not know how his late parents met until his father's wake. There, he heard the story of their Geylang kampung meet-cute from his father's old friend. Cheong glimpsed in this the pattern of a rom-com, and set about fleshing it out in the story How I Met Your Mother.

Pillai, an applied linguist in her 40s who works at the National Institute of Education, based her story An Unusual Arrangement on how her grandmother left Kerala, India, to join her husband in Singapore right before the Japanese invaded during World War II.

She recalls a Malayalam phrase her father quoted her grandmother as saying: "Come what may, my life is with him."

"I think that's the most romantic gesture in the world," she says.

"In a pandemic, when one is bombarded by news of chaos and people are separated from one another, we hope this book brings them hope and comfort."

Cheong adds: "Hopefully, A View of Stars will help the reader realise the universal truth in poet Philip Larkin's famous line: 'What will survive of us is love.'"


Poetry

LOVE AND LIFE AT THE GALLERY

Edited by Ow Yeong Wai Kit and Genevieve Wong


PHOTO: POETRY FESTIVAL SINGAPORE

Poetry Festival Singapore/Paperback/128 pages/$23.54/Available here

Inspired by artworks in National Gallery Singapore, 34 poets - from veterans like Edwin Thumboo to up-and-comers like Theophilus Kwek - pen musings on love and life, inspired by artworks in National Gallery Singapore.


Fiction

THE HEART REMEMBERS

By Rosie Wee


PHOTO: CANDID CREATION PUBLISHING

Candid Creation Publishing/Paperback/220 pages/$28.89/Available here

Before Min Joon leaves to fight the Japanese in World War II, he gives his lover Leng half of a jade pendant, promising that he will carry the other half and they will be reunited when the war is over. But when he returns, she has married someone else.

Twenty-seven years later, Leng's daughter Jeanette interviews Min Joon for the history book she is publishing and discovers a decades-old secret.

Wee, a retired secondary school department head of English and literature, based her debut novel on her late mother's journal and a stack of letters written to her by a man who was not Wee's father.

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