Singapore Shelf: Six new local books to read in September

Leluhur by Hidayah Amin and Xin Ke by Yvonne Ng Uhde, Jan Uhde and Toh Hun Ping.
Leluhur by Hidayah Amin and Xin Ke by Yvonne Ng Uhde, Jan Uhde and Toh Hun Ping.PHOTOS: HELANG BOOKS, KUCINTA BOOKS

SINGAPORE - In this monthly feature, The Straits Times lines up six hot-off-the-press Singapore books that readers can dive into.

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 which 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.

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.

CHINA RECONNECTS

By Wang Gungwu

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


PHOTO: WORLD SCIENTIFIC

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.

FIRST WAVE

By Loke Hoe Yeong

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


PHOTO: COURTESY OF HIDAYAH AMIN

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.

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


PHOTO: PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE SEA

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 from her to Ella - of a malong, or traditional Filipino "tube skirt" - forms a magical bond between them.

EMMA'S ELEPHANT: SAVING THE SLOW LORIS

By David Seow, illustrated by Mark Yong

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


PHOTO: PENKIDZ

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.