Singapore Shelf

6 reads for September

Hidayah Amin (above) delves  into the history of Kampong Glam and its growth into  a cosmopolitan urban centre in the book, Leluhur.
Hidayah Amin (above) delves into the history of Kampong Glam and its growth into a cosmopolitan urban centre in the book, Leluhur.PHOTO: IBRAHIM TAHIR
Xin Ke by Yvonne Ng Uhde, Jan Uhde and Toh Hun Ping
Xin Ke by Yvonne Ng Uhde, Jan Uhde and Toh Hun Ping
China Reconnects by Wang Gungwu
China Reconnects by Wang Gungwu
First Wave by Loke Hoe Yeong
First Wave by Loke Hoe Yeong
Mina’s Magic Malong by Eva Wong Nava and June Ho, illustrated by Novita Elisa
Mina’s Magic Malong by Eva Wong Nava and June Ho, illustrated by Novita Elisa
Emma’s Elephant: Saving The Slow Loris by David Seow, illustrated by Mark Yong
Emma’s Elephant: Saving The Slow Loris by David Seow, illustrated by Mark Yong

In this monthly feature, Arts Correspondent Olivia Ho lines up hot-off-the-press Singapore books that readers can dive into

1 NON-FICTION

LELUHUR

By Hidayah Amin

Helang Books/Hardcover/ 384 pages/$49.90/Books Kinokuniya, Times, WHSmith, Wardah Books and BooksActually

This lush tome, titled after the Javanese word for ancestors, delves into the history of Kampong Glam and its growth into a cosmopolitan urban centre, from its ties to the fall of the Srivijaya Empire to its reputation as a trading and intellectual hub of the Malay world.

Author Hidayah, 47, was born in Gedung Kuning (Yellow Mansion), the former palace at the heart of Kampong Glam. Her great-grandfather was Haji Yusoff Haji Mohamed Noor, who bought the mansion in 1912. It was acquired by the Government in 1999.

She spent five years putting the book together, including two to three years interviewing the area's former residents, lugging a portable scanner from home to home to capture photographs and artefacts that her interviewees did not want to loan out. She and her assistants also mapped the area four times.

"My late mum used to tell me that if we don't write our history, others will write it for us," she says.

2 NON-FICTION XIN KE

By Yvonne Ng Uhde, Jan Uhde and Toh Hun Ping

Kucinta Books/ Paperback/ 240 pages/ $28 before GST/ BooksActually

This book travels back in time to 1926, when an enterprising young man decided he would make the first feature film in Singapore.

Liu Beijin, the uncle of renowned local artist Liu Kang, set up an office in Chinatown and a film studio in Katong and produced the full-length silent film Xin Ke, about a young Chinese immigrant who seeks his fortunes in Malaya. The book reproduces the original movie script in full with illustrations by artist Dan Wong.

3 NON-FICTION

CHINA RECONNECTS

By Wang Gungwu

World Scientific/ Paperback/ 208 pages/ $28 before GST/ Books Kinokuniya, Times, Popular, NUS Co-op and Bookhaven

The National University of Singapore professor examines China's social, political and cultural history and evolution, as well as its outlook on the world and how it is approaching the pursuit of its future.

The book also explores the historical role of South-east Asia in China's fall and rise.

4 NON-FICTION

FIRST WAVE

By Loke Hoe Yeong

Epigram Books/ Paperback/ 410 pages/ $34.90 before GST/Major bookstores

Loke, the author of politician Chiam See Tong's biography Let The People Have Him (2014), looks at the rise and fall of Singapore's pioneer wave of opposition parties during their first 30 years in Parliament, drawing on interviews and archival materials.

5 CHILDREN'S

MINA'S MAGIC MALONG

By Eva Wong Nava and June Ho, illustrated by Novita Elisa

Penguin Random House South-east Asia/Paperback/32 pages/$9.90 before GST/Books Kinokuniya, Popular, Times and Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop

Six-year-old Ella tries to stop her beloved nanny Mina from going home to the Philippines. But Mina needs to leave to take care of her own children. A present - a malong, or traditional Filipino "tube skirt" - from her to Ella forms a magical bond between them.

6 CHILDREN'S

EMMA'S ELEPHANT: SAVING THE SLOW LORIS

By David Seow, illustrated by Mark Yong

PenKidz/ Paperback/ 32 pages/$12.73/Books Kinokuniya

Emma and her elephant Ella travel the world saving endangered animals. In this book, they try to prevent slow lorises in Indonesia from being sold as pets.

Correction note: An earlier version of the article said Gedung Kuning now houses the Malay Heritage Centre. This is inaccurate. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2019, with the headline '6 reads for September'. Print Edition | Subscribe