Wena POON's Début Collection of Stories
LIONS IN WINTER
(MPH Group Publishing, December 2007)
“TRAVEL BROADENS THE MIND, but emigration often carries with it the dilemmas of dislocation. It is often a question of knowing when to leave and when to return. Wena Poon’s stories dissect this question delicately, ironically, wickedly. Hers is a voice that should be heard: its wry mirth bubbles beneath culture clashes, runs between the hidden agenda of generations and genders, washes over the quotidian clangour of transculturation. These stories are a classic mixture of city and jungle. Poon rattles the familial cage with wit and vigour.” Brian Castro, author of Shanghai Dancing (2003) and The Garden Book (2005)
“A COMMENDABLE DÉBUT, refreshingly unpretentious and heartfelt. Wena Poon’s writing is confident and deft, and she doesn’t resort to fashionable and intrusive postmodern gimmicks. As a result, her stories are so much more effective and powerful.” Tan Twan Eng, Man Booker Prize-longlisted author of The Gift of Rain (2007)
“WENA POON’s stories are both delicate and explosive. In Lions in Winter she writes about people at the margins of our lives, people who are so because we fail to invite them closer. Here they insist on the invitation and each new encounter is a revelation.” Brian Leung, author of Lost Men (2007) and World Famous Love Acts (2004)
“WENA POON’s frank, refreshing stories bravely reject the pat stereotypes of Asia so common in the West. Asia desperately needs more narratives like hers to cancel out all the foolish, precious exoticism, pagodas and bound feet and concubines everywhere. Instead, she gives us complex characters negotiating urban realities. Her characters wrestle with dislocation, hybrid identities, tradition and modernity, and ultimately demonstrate, as the best literature always does, that so much of the human experience is universal, whatever its geographic and cultural particularities.” Preeta Samarasan, author of Evening Is the Whole Day (2008)
“READING THIS BOOK was like attending a family reunion at which each of my warped, wacky, flawed relatives took turns to drag skeletons out of closets and regale me with anecdotes that were by turns funny, dramatic, thought-provoking or tragic.” Alexandra Wong, in The Sunday Star
“REFRESHINGLY DIRECT, absorbing from each opening paragraph. I thoroughly enjoyed Wena Poon’s storytelling.” Lansell Taudevin
IN THIS COLLECTION of eleven insightful stories, Wena Poon examines the quiet lives of displaced Singaporeans living abroad and in Singapore who are often torn between two worlds in their search for an imaginary homeland.
The model student who breaks his parents’ hearts when he drops out of medical school to study fashion design in London.
The shampoo girl who leaves Singapore for the hustle and bustle of New York’s Chinatown.
The schoolteacher whose anxiety about white people cripples his dream retirement in Toronto.
The mother who dreams of an old world amidst changing landscapes.
And an unlikely Singaporean family in Nevada cut off from the rest of the world by an obsessive patriarch.
Poon’s portraits of various lives share a common, constant yearning to belong in a place made foreign whether by time or space. Occasionally humorous, but always with compassion, she captures the rich inner lives of individuals who form part of the kaleidoscopic modern history of Asian migration in their quest for modern lives.
Wena Poon left Singapore as a teenager and has lived in Hong Kong and the U.S. Her fiction, poetry and nonfiction have been widely anthologised and published in the U.S., Europe and Asia. She read literature and law at Harvard University and currently lives in San Francisco, California.
Cover design by Kenny Mah