Singapore Noir

Singapore Noir

Singapore Noir is a collection of 14 moody, totally enthralling short stories edited by Cheryl Lu-Tien Tan, each set in a recognisable neighbourhood in the titular city-state.

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If you’re looking to lift the city’s underbelly for a glimpse of what really goes on beyond the headlines of “Caning. Fines. Chewing gum” — as Tan writes in the introduction — these compelling stories are the best spot in modern literature to start.

Crisp, colourful, shocking and, well, informative, the stories traverse a murdering taxi driver, murdering sisters, a murdering son, a murdering maid, a murdering father-in-law, a murdering husband… And of course, lots of private investigators, blood and did we mention murderers?

This isn’t the prim and proper sort of detective stuff you might expect given the stories’ setting — it’s the real noir deal, written by a range of assured Singaporean writers and foreigners with an intimate knowledge of the city. Torture chambers, oral sex, ghosts and suicide all rate graphic mentions, and all with very good literary reason. Singapore the city is its creepy, shifting backdrop and its diverse society, from dirt poor to mega-rich, is the propulsion behind the storylines.

Forget the official take on Singapore: “It was a white man’s face, an Indian national’s face, a sarong party girl’s face, a new urban male’s face, a teenage punk’s face, his ex-wife’s face, her lover’s face, his former boss’s face, his representative of Parliament’s face, the pig’s face on the gate, all leering at him in unison like that goddamned ‘Smile, Singapore’ poster. He had to get rid of all those faces.”

This book is the one you want to hand to travellers who look askance when you ask whether they’re going to Singapore as part of their Southeast Asian trip; it’s for the ones who insist it’s sterile and boring. And it’s for those who know there’s more going on beneath the surface and who are desperate to know what. This book —though fiction — proves Singapore harbours complex and dangerous collisions of cultures, and entire sub-worlds of sexuality and spirituality that you won’t see when you merely skate across its surface to places more obviously sinister. As Tan writes: “No Disneyland here; but there is a death penalty.”

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108 results found

Burma (Myanmar)

Burmese Days
Burmese Days

By George Orwell

Finding George Orwell
Finding George Orwell

By Emma Larkin

Miss Burma
Miss Burma

By Charmaine Craig

The Glass Palace
The Glass Palace

By Amitav Ghosh

The Trouser People
The Trouser People

By Andrew Marshall

Cambodia

Dogs at the Perimeter
Dogs at the Perimeter

By Madeleine Thien

Holiday in Cambodia
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By Laura Jean McKay

Hun Sen’s Cambodia
Hun Sen’s Cambodia

By Sebastian Strangio

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Hunters in the Dark

By Lawrence Osborne

King Norodom's Head
King Norodom's Head

By Steven W. Boswell

River of Time
River of Time

By Jon Swain

The Gate
The Gate

By Francoise Bizot

Indonesia

A House in Bali
A House in Bali

By Colin McPhee

Beauty is a Wound
Beauty is a Wound

By Eka Kurniawan

Black Water
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Home
Home

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In the Time of Madness

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Indonesia Etc.
Indonesia Etc.

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On the Java Ridge
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By Jock Serong

Ring of Fire
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The Malay Archipelago
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By Alfred Russel Wallace

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This Earth of Mankind
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Under the Volcano
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By Cameron Forbes

Laos

Malaysia

Singapore

Crazy Rich Asians
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If I Could Tell You
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The Tower
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Thailand

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Thai Street Food
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The Drinking Food of Thailand
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The Narrow Road to the Deep North

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Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture
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Vietnam

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The Lover
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The Sorrow of War
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The Sympathizer
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The Things They Carried
The Things They Carried

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General