PositiveAsian Review of Books\"Choo... clearly delights in sharing her knowledge of Chinese and Malay folklore, traditional belief, and magical practices ... Choo holds back much information, in particular insights into Lydia’s character, that, had it been delivered earlier, might have made the resolution to this tangle more plausible ... Choo is fond of retelling her characters’ dreams—the dead communing with the living—but as a plot device, it can feel a bit contrived, constraining the story from developing naturally ... The many culturally-specific references—the scent of clove cigarettes; comparing a girl’s calves to lo bak, giant white radishes—give Choo’s work richness and sensual depth. The command of local detail and interest in the sensual sometimes combine in striking ways.\
RaveAsian Review of BooksPonti is told from the perspectives of each of the three women, Szu, Circe, and Amisa ... Szu is compelling and believable, she is filled with authentic teenage confusion, distress and sense of specialness ... Teo’s writing is wonderful; Ponti, filled with spot-on vivid descriptions, metaphors, and observations, is a novel to enjoy line-by-line ... Teo is particularly brilliant on evoking place ... The other setting Teo conjures brilliantly is Singapore itself. She captures the city’s restlessness and modernity, alongside its adherence to tradition, and its questionable celebration of its past ... Teo’s portrait of Singapore is so good it would not be a surprise if Ponti were a contender for the next Ondaatje Prize, awarded to a work that best evokes \'spirit of a place.\'
Rao Pingru, Trans. by Nicky Harman
RaveThe Asian Review of BooksThe text is above all a deeply moving love letter from Pingru to his wife ... it is also his love painting; almost every page is gorgeously illustrated with his enchanting, sometimes heartbreaking paintings ... Nicky Harman’s translation reads fluently in English and gives a sense of what must be the vibrancy of the original Chinese ... Where explanation of characters is needed, it is included gracefully, so the reader is not distracted ... I defy anyone to flip from the photographs inside the front cover, of Pingru and Meitang in youth, to the one inside the back cover, of them in old age, without feeling their eyes become moist.
PositiveThe Asian Review of Books...a playful and provocative investigation of faith, and of how a spiritual master’s legacy is ensured ... Barker’s style defies easy labels too. She jumps about in time, and tense, and place, and point of view. She is fond of knowing asides, and of comments on her own text, and of repetition, and of the informal language of speech, and of exclamations, and of questions, without or without answers, and of lists, and of italics for emphasis, and of emoticons—smiley and sad faces ... well-worth reading for its inventiveness, its funniness, and its energy.