Rice Bowl – Su-chen Christine Lim

Su-chen Christine Lim is a lover of the trees, the wind and the rain. Her favourite trees are the Angsana and Casuarina which speak to her of growth, endurance, and the capacity to survive adversity. She likes reading and collecting books bought by her husband; walking and exploring different parts of Singapore; talking with and learning about people.

She in interested in young people and their problems and has served as a para-counsellor for many years. She taught English and General Paper at the Catholic Junior College until recently, when she was assigned to work at the Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore, as a writer-speaker on Marriage and Family Life.

Incidentally, Christine is married with two boys aged eleven and five.

This is her first novel.

The book in one sentence: Fresh into university, Marie’s Group of Four, daring to be different, involve themselves with social issues, breaking away from their ivory tower establishment; and then, all too soon, being swept up in a cycle of events and a clash of personalities leaving them forever tangled. (Taken from the back cover synopsis)

Who would you recommend it to: Someone who is interested in the lives of Singaporean youths with Christianly rebel streak during the sixties, and some Ang Mohs thrown in the mix as well.

Best bit: When one of the supporting characters committed suicide. It’s the best to me because she was proof that for all the protagonist’s self-arrogance in her charismatic abilities, she has failed to connect with the one person who needed her most. You can tell I dislike people who are close to you because they want to make use of you but do not genuinely care for you as a person.

Boring bits: The discussions about the Vietnam war and “bourgeois” babble.

Verdict: This is one of the very few times I hated the protagonist, so pretty much hated the book. That said, I don’t regret reading it because it’s very different from the books I’m used to reading yet I could somewhat appreciate the craft and message in the writing.

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