Cousin June

Cousin June

Cousin June

 

A cabaret in Singapore during the 1930s, and a young woman takes to the dance floor with her next customer... So begins Zheng Shuying's evocative portrait of the days and nights of an immigrant Chinese Family.

A graceful reflection on familial ties that spans shanghai, Penang and Singapore, Cousin June brings to life unforgettable assembly of mothers and daughters, fathers and sons. From the fiery Ta Ee Ma to her father, the finest gambler in old Penang, Zheng reveals the joys and hardships of a singular family, and the strength of its women across the generations.

Any investigation of the past is fraught with possibilities, not all of which are welcome. So it is Cousin June, a memoir of remarkable honesty in which what is unspoken is as important as what is revealed. Through recollections of Shanghai and the Malay Peninsula in which her memories and those of her Cousin June become increasingly entwined, Zheng captures the spirit of a bygone era and explains its rituals, rules and codes. The stories that emerge are by turns comic and deeply felt, fraught with the words and actions of the people they have known, and expressed in lyrical passages that mirror Zheng's search for answers.

Much of the book is related in the first-person voice of Cousin June, a figure of goodness and decency who comes in focus through her actions and words (often practical and to the point). It's hard to render colloquial Asian dialogue in way that seems true, but this is what Zheng has done. The book is sprinkled with words in Malay, Chinese and Hokkien, and the world it portrays will be instantly recognisable to anyone in Singapore and Malaysia. With settings that range from cabarets and Peking opera stage to gambling dens, Cousin June reveals a wonderfully fragrant and largely forgotten part of old Asia.

Half-remembered conversations and vivid moments recovered from the past, set amid a backdrop of cabarets, the opera stage and mahjong tables - these pieces are woven into a narrative of truth and loss by the voices of Zheng and her Cousin June.

Details
Author Zheng Shuying
ISBN 978.981.248.021.7
Size 152mm x 227mm
Extent 128pp
Hardcover / Softcover Softcover
Illustrated or Black & White Black & White text only
Language English
 
Our price: US$9.50
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