Metropoli d'Asia

World rights


Yeng Pway Ngon
Art Studio

Genre: Novel
Pages: 495
Origin: Singapore

In the art studio of a widower Jian Xiong and his friend Zhang Wenzhong organize a workshop held by the old painter Yan Pei. The attendee are women and me looking for something: a new life, a space for their own, a basis on which build a career of fame.

Mei Fang is Jian Xiong partner, she has abandoned her work in a factory and is seeking self realization; Si Xian loves Ning Fang and proposed her to attend the workshop to have the chance to spend more time with her, hoping that she will renounce to the idea of leaving Singapore, while Ye Chaoqun is a young poet striving for fame. The story is set in the seventies, during a period of great political and social changes in Singapore. The reactionary government is carrying out a merciless campaign of repression of the moderate and communist movements. Jian Xiong took part to the riots when he was student and is in the police's sights for his political commitment. After an intimidatory house search he is forced to leave the town and abscond in the forest where, with help of the resistance forces, will live for more than twenty years, dreaming home, struggling for life. Twenty years in which all the other Yan Pei students will fulfil their aims, becoming substantially unhappy. Twenty years in which Mai Fang never forgot her lover Jian Xiong, struggling alone against cancer in the restaurant near the forest she named after her partner. In hopes that one day it will help him to come back to her.

Reading this novel is like watching a painter working on his canvas. Each character is a colour, independent but indissolubly bound to the whole composition. The author leads the reader through a winding path in which different stories seem to run into each other accidentally, but are deeply united by a common sense of loneliness. A novel on political commitment, on human relationships, on dreams and at the end on the human fragility. A cubist canvas on life.

About the Author: Born in 1947, Yeng Pway Ngon is a poet, novelist, playwright and critic. He is a recipient of Singapore’s 2003 Cultural Medallion. His novel, A Man Like Me, won a National Book Development Council of Singapore’s Book Award in 1988, while another novel, Tumult, won the Singapore Literature Prize in 2004. Trivialities about Me and Myself won the Singapore Literature Prize.

Reviews and Prizes

Singapore Literature Prize 2012