Elaine Chiew’s stories are inter-laced with humour, compassion and the importance of food and cooking, and the memories that meals evoke, as her characters negotiate unfamiliar worlds, raise children in another country or introduce parents to partners who don’t speak their language. In the title story, four writers find their cultural bonds of friendship tested when a handsome young Asian man 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.
Elaine Chiew drills below the surface of her characters’ circumstances with exemplary narrative skill and subtlety. Her stories are as varied, worldly and emotionally resonant as the characters themselves. This is fabulous debut collection and heralds an exciting new literary talent .