Hello from Hanoi

I’ve not posted for a while and it’s because I’ve been away, first in Singapore …

and now in Hanoi, Vietnam …

I’ll be back in Kuala Lumpur on the 14th and, before you know it, it’ll be Christmas! But I’ll try to squeeze in a post before that.


I’ll Climb Every Mountain

Because it’s Monday and laughter is the best medicine. If you don’t know this video, Billy Ocean’s backup singers are just what the doctor ordered.

WWW Wednesday

What are you currently reading?


Lotus by Lijia Zhang

This was a book that featured on the BBC World Book Club and I listened to the podcast and was really taken by the author’s ideas and attitude. Zhang’s first language is her own Chinese dialect, and she wrote this book in English, which is amazing and makes me wonder if I should attempt to write more in Bahasa Melayu. Hmm …

poppies1Poppies for England by Susan Scarlett (Noel Streatfeild)

I’ve read practically every children’s book written by Streatfeild, but not many of her grown-up books. I’ve just finished another one of hers written under the name Susan Scarlett (see below)and I guess I wanted to prolong the pleasure. This one is a very different type of book than the other though.

coverPonti by Sharlene Teo

Of course I am curious about any book that references pontianak. So far, I feel the author over-describes everything, and the sixteen-year-old narrator sounds far too knowing for her age, but I still want to know what happens next.

fat1Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat

I’m dipping in and out of this book about food and cooking. The Netflix four-part documentary, hosted by the author, is wonderful.

What did you recently finish reading?

CLASS-Sisters-CVF-100Three Daughters of Sze by Tan Kok Seng

I love Tan Kok Seng’s autoboigraphical Son of Singapore and Man of Malaysia and so I was looking forward to this one, especially as it is (supposedly) about sisters. However, I think the reason Tan’s other books are so much better than this one is that they are about his life, which is such an interesting one, and of course the historical details of the setting.

Three Daughters also gives the reader a fascinating glimpse into the past, but this isn’t enough to redeem a story that is tediously mired in stereotypes and cliches.

Also, the title is misleading as it’s the whole Sze family (especially the second generation Mr Sze and his wife) that is the focus rather than than the three sisters.

murderMurder While You Work by Susan Scarlett (Noel Streatfeild)

This is a thriller set in England during the second world war. I didn’t expect to find this book as creepy as I did. Some scenes are vividly disturbing.

What do you think you’ll read next?

The graphic novels I recently purchased:


A Chinese Life written by Li Kunwu and Philippe Ôtié and illustrated by Li Kunwu, translated (into English from French) by Edward Gauvin.

Are You My Mother? and Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Uncomfortably Happily by Yeon-Sik Hong


The Wife by Meg Wolitzer — I really want to watch the film, starring Glenn Close.

Like Lady Godiva

Bohemian Rhapsody is an entertaining film if you’re there for just the music and the spectacle. Don’t go for a revealing, thoughtful presentation of Freddie Mercury’s life. I would like to watch it again, just for the songs, and the comedy, yes the comedy — one of the things I appreciate the most about Freddy is how, like Davod Bowie, he never takes himself too seriously.

For better or for worse, Don’t Stop Me Now is my favourite Queen song — because of its energy, Freddie’s beautiful voice, and the lyrics that never fail to make me laugh. I mean, come on — ‘I’m burning through the sky: Two hundred degrees — that’s why they call me Mister Fahrenheit!’ — if that doesn’t raise a smile (at very least) then you must truly be dead inside.

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Caturday: Spirit Tigers

There is a story (from my soon-to-be-published collection), in which five spirit tigers are accidentally summoned by someone playing a YouTube recording of a spell.


This picture, by Steve Simpson, reminds me of my spirit tigers. However, in my story, one of the tigers is a disembodied head — the spell is incomplete and she does not manifest completely.

(This is actually a mural for a Korean restaurant and you can see sketches by the artist at his Behance site.)