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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Thursday 13 December 2007

The Lies that Build a Marriage by Suchen Christine Lim

by Suzan Abrams in London.
In The Lies That Build A Marriage, a paperback fiction and new title published by Monsoon Books Singapore, one straightaway senses that Suchen Christine Lim's efforts at writing and compiling a series of short stories, have been subtly designed to haunt and provoke a straitlaced but thoughtful Singapore with restless, stirring themes that hover like a dark cloud, over the classic immeasurable pain cradled by marginalised communities.
Be warned that such a book acts like a mini-dynamite...it steps into your life on tippy-toes and suddenly embraces you with the giant squeeze of a bearhug from where you failed to look. You may never again be the same.
A page, a paragraph, a word and all fast rising to a steady flame as your eyes scan the pages. Be warned of Lim's sound talent at exploiting the dark and hidden and in bringing to light, the old and unsaid.
You'll dwell on the explosive revelations that garlands traditional Singapore life, while armed with all of its walled sophistication, colourful taboos and superstitions. And here amidst the old quiet streets, flanked by unsuspecting ancient flats and modern apartment blocks, are where dangerous secrets lie.
For the surprised but adventurous reader, the passionate thinker and one who may look to a courageous author, Lim's tales waste no time in winding powerful messages into the tender if not sometimes stubborn heart.
Lim, one of Singapore's foremost prized writers, draws on her vast writing experience to create bold but loving debates on the open secrets of homosexuality, measured immorality and even the dire consequences of racism.
A mother's reconciliation with her son's hesitating confession that indeed, he had been gay for a long time.."since I was 9 or 10..." he offers hopefully, a daughter ashamed at her two uneducated mothers - traditional Chinese amahs, whom she discovers to her horror to be contented lesbians and both of them, her doting servants, whom she learns to appreciate only after their death.
Then there are the roles of suffering mistresses and wives caught on the jagged edge of society...the named women who will eventually be redeemed as haloed angels or damned as dominant shrews.
Picture for instance, the rude fights of a mother and daughter-in-law that results in unfairly punished sons and a high maid turnover. Sounds interesting? But there's more to woo the spirit.
Lim's strength lies in her excellent execution of dialect and accents featuring a cruder version of Singapore-dialogue. The rough strains of the English Language, deliberately spoken and written, if you like, with a twitch and tickle. Intensity moulds itself eagerly into harried conversations.
Perhaps it would be best after all, to settle on a skilled dark comedy or studied emotional discourse.
Lim also successfully ends each questioning story on the play of a sharp poignant note that will hound the reader with subdued reflections. A thinker's book surely.
In the event too, that more is sought to whet the appetite, Lim regales the reader with true-life anecdotes on the unexpected reception of her book in Singapore amongst nuns, pastors and congregations. On a parting note, the author employs a pleading and intimate voice for understanding and acceptance of the extraordinary from the ordinary.
For ordering details, please click on Monsoon Books, Singapore.

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