[Ebook] It Never Rains on National Day By Jeremy Tiang – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk

It Never Rains on National Day Shortlisted For The Singapore Literature Prize For English FictionA Woman Fleeing Her Previous Existence Meets A Fellow Singaporean On An Overnight Train In Norway A Foreign Worker Is Decapitated In An HDB Building Site Accident A Singaporean Wife Must Negotiate Beijing As Her British Husband Awaits A Heart Transplant And In Different Corners Of The World, Singaporeans And Exiles Mark National Day In Their Own WaysJeremy Tiang S Debut Collection Weaves Together The Lives Of Its Characters Across The World From Switzerland, Norway, Germany, China, Canada, Thailand, New York City And Back To Singapore These Wry, Unsettling Stories Ask How We Decide Where We Belong, And What Happens To Those Who Don T

10 thoughts on “It Never Rains on National Day

  1. says:

    jeremy tiang attempts to write from a range of perspectives voices, but locating characters in various cities across the world bangkok, china, new york, germany etc does not make them different or diverse the stories came across as hollow, lacking intimacy or heart.the worst kind of characters feature in this book ones utterly unaware of their privilege in turn it came across as though the author was not aware of that the way his own privilege informs his characters the singaporeans h jeremy tiang attempts to write from a range of perspectives voices, but locating characters in various cities across the world bangkok, china, new york, germany etc does not make them different or diverse the stories came across as hollow, lacking intimacy or heart.the worst kind of characters feature in this book ones utterly unaware of their privilege in turn it came across as though the author was not aware of that the way his own privilege informs his characters the singaporeans here are the creamy layer skimmed off the top of society well off, well educated, well traveled their reflections on singapore what it means to be a singaporean come from the privilege of having lived elsewhere if i were to give him the benefit of the doubt and concede that that might have been intentional, that he wanted to portray them that way as a form of criticism of singaporean mindset society, that intentionality didn t come across finally, close to a third of the stories maybe even half were written from the perspective of females he failed to effectively inhabit their voice, it read like this is what i think a woman would think if she were in this position i would not recommend

  2. says:

    Crisp, clear and elegant writing, on the themes of escape, travel, interracial relationships, and most importantly, boundaries set by society and oneself Indeed, the author wanted to use the German word for fear of crossing boundaries as the title of his book Three cheers for the publisher who prevented this from happening, as it surely would have turned off many potential readers buyers It would have been a shame, since this book is a gem which has persuaded me to integrateAsian lite Crisp, clear and elegant writing, on the themes of escape, travel, interracial relationships, and most importantly, boundaries set by society and oneself Indeed, the author wanted to use the German word for fear of crossing boundaries as the title of his book Three cheers for the publisher who prevented this from happening, as it surely would have turned off many potential readers buyers It would have been a shame, since this book is a gem which has persuaded me to integrateAsian literature in my Western centric diet Most stories unfold at night, and many show characters dreaming or drifting off to sleep, as if they can only deal with their true emotions far from the harsh, bright daylight Boundaries, like prison, are best escaped in the thick of the night Here are my description of the 11 stories and some accompanying thoughts Sophia s HoneymoonSophia and her born rich and ultimately rather lousy British husband honeymoon in Europe They go to the opera Feeling out of her element she escapes in the middle of the performance and gets lost in Zurich before being found by her husband, who d rather not dwell on the reasons of her escape Singaporean focus on food Expensive chocolates, Sprungli macarons, thick veal stew, fries and McEmmenthaler Feel hungry already Reminded me of Laura van den Berg s Isle of Youth collection, which also opens with a honeymoon gone wrong story told from the woman s POV and showing her on a brief solo escape from a marriage that seems sure to fail Couldn t shake a feeling that the story was a cautionary tale for Singaporean women who think Western husbands are better But I think I was primed by the last sentence of the book backcover These unsettling stories ask how we decide where we belong, and what happens to those who don t. emphasis mine TrondheimOn a train in Norway, a man gets wind that a fellow Singaporean has no ticket and pays for her As they get acquainted, tension mounts as the man represents Singapore conservative values, and she s a teacher who s just decided to defect her bond Taken literally, this story sounds like another cautionary tale against interracial relationships during her travels, the woman has slept with a foreign man and may be in deep trouble , but once I learned that the author, just like the woman, used to be teacher, I ended up thinking this story is really lashing out against society s conformism and overly pragmatist attitudes, exemplified by the male engineer character.TickAn aspiring novelist rents a cabin in the wood, hoping it will cure his procrastination Of course, he fails, and all sorts of calamities pile up in his life over the course of his stay First story where the characters aren t explicitly Singaporean Delightful humour and fast paced plot For personal reasons, this story spoke to me on various levels Will re read this one for sure SchwellenangstOn a trip to Germany, a Singaporean female teacher wanders at night, finds a rave and befriends two strangers she meets there They leave together, talk and fall asleep in the park Story with the most literary tone About a Singaporean woman doing something out of the norm in this case, sleeping out in the open, as opposed to returning to the relative safety of her hostel and wanting to hide it from her students and fellow teachers, an expression of how tight Singapore societal boundaries can be In other societies, such an experience would give the woman bragging rights Impressive display of the author s power of description I had never heard of Prora, the Hitler era resort where the story takes place, but when I looked up pictures after reading the story, it was exactly as I had imagined it based on his description.Sophia s AuntSophia s British husband is not so cocky now since he s hospitalised in Beijing, awaiting a heart transplant thanks to the intercession of Sophia s aunt, able to pull the necessary strings Interesting structure as the author manages two POVs in the course of a short story Poignant emotions ringing extremely true all the while remaining unexpected One of the best stories in the collection Bonus Depicts the oft awkward relationship between Singapore and China, and also functions as a political critique won t sayto avoid spoiler.TorontoHaving escaped her Singaporean life, a teacher follows Canadian friends participating in a festive march They all get drunk and she ends up sleeping with a foreigner who disappears by morning Okay, maybe the author really wanted to caution Singaporean women against relationships with foreign men These don t tend to end up well, lol The narrator seems to live inside her head a lot She attends the parade, but it feels like she s floating above the scene throughout, observing herself Exemplary show, don t tell, but a little telling might have been good, if only to let readers know why she s escaping her old life Harmonious ResidencesDealing with love problems and a potential loss of face, a HDB manager needs to handle the crazed widow of a Chinese worker who s died a gruesome death on the building site of a new development Amazing first line hook They found his decapitated body on the forty first floor This story suffers a bit due to having an unlikable, terribly self centred narrator I suspect this is another story that can t be read literally and, just like in the Trondheim story, the person who s described as crazy is actually the sanest one sane in the sense of retaining a sense of right and wrong, and the ability to revolt IMHO, this is a story about the treatment of foreign workers, cold hearted bureaucracy and what can happen when only face counts Sorry if I appear a bit thick sometimes My excuse is that I ve watched too many Channel 8 primetime dramas sponsored by various ministries and have thus stopped to expect subtlety, lol My bad, really To be continued

  3. says:

    Superb A riveting set of interconnected stories, mostly but not only about life in Singapore and beyond it, told with precision, genuineness and feeling Tiang has the short story form down pat he sucks you in with never before told plotlines, and keeps you there with style, substance and, perhaps the hardest to do well humour These stories were such fun, and so satisfying, to read The first two were the weakest in terms of plot, but all are packed with beautifully written off kilter expe Superb A riveting set of interconnected stories, mostly but not only about life in Singapore and beyond it, told with precision, genuineness and feeling Tiang has the short story form down pat he sucks you in with never before told plotlines, and keeps you there with style, substance and, perhaps the hardest to do well humour These stories were such fun, and so satisfying, to read The first two were the weakest in terms of plot, but all are packed with beautifully written off kilter experiences and canny micro insights into topics many of us have thought about but perhaps been unable to articulate so delicately My favourite was the only previously unpublished story Tick, whose comic realist description of writers bloc left me literally LOL ing at every juncture.Surely this marks the entrance of a wonderful new voice into the sphere of SingLit Must read Caveat I know Jeremy personally, and like him Make what you will of how this has affected the bias of this review I myself prefer to see it the other way i m now incredibly honoured to be friends with someone whose skills as not just a translator but also a writer are so formidable

  4. says:

    Solid debut collection, with many of the short stories featuring the same characters The comment s been made a couple of times that it sounds like there s a novel in there somewhere struggling to get out while I do like the conceit in a short story collection, I definitely felt that part of the reason many people seized on It could be a novel is that many of the stories don t turn on their own discrete axis they re plotless, they re psychological, introverted little character sketches.Whi Solid debut collection, with many of the short stories featuring the same characters The comment s been made a couple of times that it sounds like there s a novel in there somewhere struggling to get out while I do like the conceit in a short story collection, I definitely felt that part of the reason many people seized on It could be a novel is that many of the stories don t turn on their own discrete axis they re plotless, they re psychological, introverted little character sketches.Which is all to the well and good Tiang s goal is arguably to examine aimlessness, identities suspended in the act of motion It s just that after a while I found these dissatisfactions frustrating to read For the same reason, I enjoyed the stories featuring Sophia and her husband Nicholas, particularly the first and last of the collection Sharp, satirical character sketches that feel like Tiang isn t afraid to caricature instead of psychologise For this reason they were my favourite in an otherwise highly competent collection that sometimes felt rather adrift

  5. says:

    I think this book is likable Initially, i was rather bored disappointed by the cookie cutter emo themes, of Civil Servants blabbing on about how they feel Alienated from Singapore Consider, an almost complete set Singaporean Girl who marries an Angmo and feels Alienated and Between Worlds Arts Girl who feels sad in Trondheim, and sleeps with an angmoh to Feel Alive Again Engineer Civil Servant who is a Government Scholar, who cannot understand Arts Girl MOE Teacher, wandering Germany, I think this book is likable Initially, i was rather bored disappointed by the cookie cutter emo themes, of Civil Servants blabbing on about how they feel Alienated from Singapore Consider, an almost complete set Singaporean Girl who marries an Angmo and feels Alienated and Between Worlds Arts Girl who feels sad in Trondheim, and sleeps with an angmoh to Feel Alive Again Engineer Civil Servant who is a Government Scholar, who cannot understand Arts Girl MOE Teacher, wandering Germany, fluent in German, who meets angmo couple in this instance, it s not relevant what is the specific nationality of this couple, because their function as often is the case is a Foil to Singaporean Angst Singaporean Chinese in a Foreign, Unfamiliar Land, struggling with their Mandarin Angmo disgusted by NDP, cos military, and parade, and guns Shudder OF COURSE the angmo has to be disgusted right The layers of hypocrisy multiply once you think a little closer on the character, and the characterisation For instance, consider the sheer scale of violence of the British Empire and its military at its height heck even the TRADITION of these parades derives in part from the pomp and ceremony of the durbars organised by British Raj Please remember your own chequered history before riding down on us with your high horse, Mr Democratic Angmo Man For instance, also consider the fact that a British character has to be written up like that too, possibly but not definitely as a proxy for the writer s thoughts how crude, how simplistic, this caricature of the angM0lang from Farawayland A m B i G u I T y mopey middle class variations on these themes But this collection wasn t unreadable nor insufferable, as some pieces of Singapore writing about Singaporeans in truth only a very thin strata of middle class, English readers, often with civil service jobs, often with the same Sadnesses and Melancholies, often who went to NUS and did Exchange in some angmohland and Discovered Racism, Confusion, and The Feeling of Being Untethered can be For all its generic appeals, I liked that the snippets of these whiny, privileged characters with their Alienation Problems were later set against a story about migrant workers on their day off to St John s Island National Day Those were a set of perspectives i haven t really yet been exposed to yet as a whiny, middle class English reader myself You don t often find such flashes in books of this species, so credit to Tiang for this effort.There s also an early story about a Writer Tick , stuck in a creative block, that sat powerfully on its own, without need to reference Singapore, or Singaporeanness The ending was so swift, so masterfully delivered, that i only sat with a quiet wow for a moment I think it s clear that Tiang can be a very good writer i came to this book via a short story in one of the Balik Kampungs, though i ve yet to read State of Emergency I m a little disappointed at many of the privileged, whiny character stories because frankly, like ticks, there is too much of that kind of thing in our literaryscape liao, and those stories don t really add new insights to what already exists.But generally, the writing is very readable Worth a relaxed graze if you happen to be let s just point to the Emperor s stale elephant in the room la CHINESE okay la, no need to play race so much, see next category, because this is what inequality looks like upper middle class went to NUS NTU SMU like to be seen reading Singlit bought preferably from BooksActually because supportlocal, preferably with a fashionable minimalist cover harbour some generic feelings of Alienation about The Singapore Government and its Education System, which Makes Us Robots Are a civil servant PSC Scholar Scholar of some variation like to indulge occasionally in some moping and angsting about how Atomised We Have Become as a Nation but would probably vote PAP in the end, anywayEdit initially put 4 stars but after letting it sit a while i think this book ratesas a 3 or 3.5 star

  6. says:

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here National Art Council has helped propel another singapore author into the global scene by withdrawing funding His first novel the state of emergency , make him globally known because NAC withdrew the funding due to the sensitive nature of the work Seriously Anyway thanks to them ,people are aware of the stories during the emergency and the leftists fight in singapore I can t think of better way to help Singaporean beaware of various version of history Maybe some executives in National Art Council has helped propel another singapore author into the global scene by withdrawing funding His first novel the state of emergency , make him globally known because NAC withdrew the funding due to the sensitive nature of the work Seriously Anyway thanks to them ,people are aware of the stories during the emergency and the leftists fight in singapore I can t think of better way to help Singaporean beaware of various version of history Maybe some executives in NAC really hoped for that and purposely withdrew the funding to create uproarAnyway not much can be found easily about the author , other than he is of Sri Lankan and malaysia Chinese heritage and went to Chinese high I did not find the book too interesting as the stories seems to be some holiday short stories where he make use of the places he been to and write a story using that as background The title is what attracted me, even till today some believe that it never rains on national day because the government did something about it Did they However , the stories seems to have too many characters who are escaping from singapore , feeling too trapped and stifling of the good lives they lead Scholars who regret signing up , girls who just want to get away from singapore , following guys whom they just met along the way to their apartment although it turn out quite harmless He wrote a lot about Singaporean who are abroad or who have foreign partners , I can feel his deep sense of patriotism but yet the rebellious attitude towards the state of politics and system Not surprising if he lives abroad and he probably has met many scholars , many upper middle class Singaporean who love and hate singapore He is one of themAgain, well done NAC for withdrawing the funding Please do thatso we getinternationally acclaimed authors The global media loves those books which NAC disapprove

  7. says:

    Of all the short stories in this book, I like National Day a lot I was able to feel the emotions by these bangladeshi bhaiyya It was a bit weird at first, to be reading I built that but I realised it s true Sure, we do have the architects, URA officers at least majority of them doLook, look at them running away from their own birthday party, what kind of people are they, that would never happen back at ho Of all the short stories in this book, I like National Day a lot I was able to feel the emotions by these bangladeshi bhaiyya It was a bit weird at first, to be reading I built that but I realised it s true Sure, we do have the architects, URA officers etc but the people who are directly involved in building these are the bhaiyyas at least majority of them doLook, look at them running away from their own birthday party, what kind of people are they, that would never happen back at home I have mixed feelings on this Holidays are meant to be rest days for almost all working adults and sometimes, it s being utilised by going to other places other than staying home The National Day Parade is always in the evening so morning and afternoon can be spent at other places and when it s nearing the evening, find a place to watch it together with family and friends The ending of this story though sigh Why did Neelish do that Giving up is not the way

  8. says:

    Having grown up in Singapore and been living overseas for the past 6 years as a student, I found many of the characters in Jeremy s book easily relatable, and I suspect many other overseas Singaporeans will feel the same I thoroughly enjoyed Jeremy s writing style, and fully appreciated many of the hints of Singaporean ness that so eloquently captured a lot of the country s flavour The only downside is that I found myself cravingwhat happens to these characters after the story ends Having grown up in Singapore and been living overseas for the past 6 years as a student, I found many of the characters in Jeremy s book easily relatable, and I suspect many other overseas Singaporeans will feel the same I thoroughly enjoyed Jeremy s writing style, and fully appreciated many of the hints of Singaporean ness that so eloquently captured a lot of the country s flavour The only downside is that I found myself cravingwhat happens to these characters after the story ends His stories are so full of life that you cannot help but wish that he had written a full novel on each of the characters and their stories

  9. says:

    Another excellent publication by Epigram.These short stories woven by some repeated characters paint a real picture of Singapore and the transglobal Singaporean.My particular favourite was the one of the foreign workers and their perception of Singapore and Singaporeans Everyone should read it It will make us view the people who help build and maintain our country differently.

  10. says:

    Got through the first three The writing is solid at best, and nothing that the world still needed to hear is conveyed in them If that gets nominated for a literature award in Singapore, it is not a good sign for the state of the art there.

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