Set in different cities around the world, Elaine Chiew’s award-winning stories travel into the heart of the Singaporean and Malaysian Chinese diasporas to explore the lives of those torn between cultures and juggling divided selves.
In the title story, four writers find their cultural bonds of friendship tested when a handsome young Asian writer joins their group. In other stories, a brother searches for his sister forced to serve as a comfort woman during World War Two; three Singaporean sisters run a French gourmet restaurant in New York; a woman raps about being a Tiger Mother in Belgravia; and a filmmaker struggles to document the lives of samsui women—Singapore’s thrifty, hardworking construction workers.
Acutely observed, wry and playful, her stories are as worldly and emotionally resonant as the characters themselves. This fabulous debut collection heralds an exciting new literary voice.
Elaine Chiew is a writer and a visual arts researcher, and editor of Cooked Up: Food Fiction From Around the World (New Internationalist, 2015). Originally from Malaysia, Chiew graduated from Stanford Law School and worked as a corporate securities lawyer in New York and Hong Kong before studying for an MA in Asian Art History at Lasalle College of the Arts Singapore, a degree conferred by Goldsmiths, University of London. Elaine lives in Singapore and her collection of short stories, The Heartsick Diaspora, and other stories is available to buy now.
Read: Run of the Molars, Myriad Editions (this will open as a pdf)
Reviews: “The Heartsick Diaspora and Other Stories” by Elaine Chiew; “Cursed and Other Stories” by Noelle Q De Jesus, Asian Review of Books
Prompt: Use your own mother as a starting point for a story. Describe her features and quirks, then think back to a particular memory or day that comes to mind. Now re-work into fiction.