An intense and emotive memoir of one girl's difficult family upbringing in a Singaporean Chinese family during the Second World War. Lucy Lum was the third of seven children, born in Singapore in 1933 into a Chinese immigrant family ruled with an iron hand by Popo, her fearsome and superstitious grandmother. Popo is a firm believer in the old ...
An intense and emotive memoir of one girl's difficult family upbringing in a Singaporean Chinese family during the Second World War. Lucy Lum was the third of seven children, born in Singapore in 1933 into a Chinese immigrant family ruled with an iron hand by Popo, her fearsome and superstitious grandmother. Popo is a firm believer in the old ways, in stomach-churning herbalist remedies, in the dubious fortune-telling of mystics, and in mischievous little girls like Lucy knowing their place, and is forever keen to dispense her own wicked brand of justice, much to the despair of her adopted family. Yet the suffering does not end at home. This is Singapore in the forties, a former British colony now living under the spectre of the invading Japanese -- the hungry worms crawling down from the north as Lucy knows them -- and fear floods the streets outside the family home. Lucy's father, a kind-hearted and talented linguist, finds himself being used by the occupiers as a translator, and brings back terrifying stories of his merciless employers, family friends blown apart inside their rickety shelters, dead bodies heaped on top of one another by the roadside, that he confides to his daughter under the heavy teak table in the dining room. 'The Thorn of Lion City' is a fascinating and honest account of wartime occupation and of a little girl's upbringing in a repressive Chinese family. At times harrowing, at others touching, it breaks the long silence of the Singaporean Chinese and speaks of hardship, family and the softly-spoken, redemptive relationship between a father and daughter.
Publishers Weekly, 2007-02-26 Lum's heartfelt, harrowing memoir recreates the years her family emigrated to Singapore from China and endured the Japanese invasion of the British-controlled island during WWII. The narrator, born in 1933, is the second daughter of four siblings whose father is an official interpreter; his wages allow the extended family, including the formidable maternal grandmother, Popo, a cook and several indentured servants, to live comfortably and the children to attend English schools. Lum's young life is overshadowed by the tyranny of the harshly autocratic, superstitious grandmother and whimsical irascibility of the spoiled mother, both of whom beat the girls mercilessly for any infraction, while coddling the sons. With the invasion of General Yamashita's forces in 1942, the kindly, educated father works for the Japanese, though his true tormentors prove to be Popo and his scornful wife, who drive him to drink and an early death. In modestly elegant prose, Lum portrays the lean, hard years during which she must navigate the crushing adult forces around her and bear witness to horrible events: bloodshed and Japanese torture, her father's untimely death and the later, shameful abandonment of the children by their mother. Lum's work resonates with power and grace. (June) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Copyright in bibliographic data and cover images is held by Nielsen Book Services Limited, Baker & Taylor, Inc., or by their respective licensors, or by the publishers, or by their respective licensors. For personal use only. All rights reserved. All rights in images of books or other publications are reserved by the original copyright holders.