8/01/2019

The best books on Singapore recommended by Sharlene Teo

"I grew up there, by and large, for the first 19 years of my life, but it’s interesting to me, having been away now for something close to 13 years. My impression of Singapore is very much stamped in time. Ponti is a portrayal of, and a love letter to, the country that I grew up in. But it’s a complicated relationship I have with Singapore, with such a sentimentally saturated place, especially when its face keeps on changing.

It’s a novel preoccupied with how human subjects feel betrayed by urban progress. Things like rapid development and modernization are essential to improving infrastructure of a country and giving people more opportunities. But on a micro level and on a personal level, what results is a sense of nostalgia because of the erasure of the landmarks and familiar conditions that inform your memory, that tell you, ‘This is the place where I grew up; this is the place that was witness to significant events in my life or significant passages of emotional development.’ That’s very much the role that the city plays in Ponti."