I first travelled to Singapore when I was just 8, and have been there half a dozen times since. It’s a place with a unique mix of cultures and history, and the stories in Lion Eats Fish capture this well. Last Time Kopitiam by Marc de Foite, the tale of a trader sent to Singapore who is “quite adept at handling futures and derivatives”, captures historical and modern Singapore well. There are a number of “flower punk” stories—think steampunk but with a healthy dose of botany, and I really enjoyed these, particularly ‘Agnes Joaquim’ by Ng Yi-Sheng; they seem to fit Singapore quite well. I read these at a time I was watching David Attenborough’s Kingdom of Plants, and both have sparked in me a new appreciation for the amazing world of plants. A few stories fell flat for me, I just didn’t connect at all with the imagery / characters / background, but overall I really enjoyed this collection of short stories.
Highlights for me were The Disappearance of Lisa Zhang, by Dave Chua, which was well written and with characters that had real depth, and Story of the Kiss, by Stephanie Ye, which is the finest short story I’ve ever read, an exploration of love from an interesting perspective. I will be looking for more short stories by these two authors.
My sincerest apologies to Jason, the esteemed organiser and editor of this collection, for the delay in this review that I promised quite a while ago. It’s been a busy and dark year, and only now am I able to catch my breath, and enjoy the beautiful stories he has collected
Highly recommended. 9/10.