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Archive for the ‘Singaporean Literature’ Category

Catherine Lim is one of Singapore’s greatest writers. I’ve wanted to read her books for a while. When I discovered that she has written a collection of ghost stories, I thought it would be a perfect read for this Halloween week.

The Howling Silence‘ is a collection of 14 ghost stories. The stories aren’t the scary type in which the ghosts come and scare people (and the reader). Many of the stories are suggestive, which is the best kind of ghost story. There is one story in which a woman is grieving and it appears that she gets a gift from the netherworld from her beloved. It was one of my favourite stories in the book. In another story, a woman keeps in touch with her dead daughter, while her dead daughter is growing up in her own world. And at one point, the two parallel worlds interact (or it looks like they do) in a surprising way with some interesting consequences. That story made me smile, because it looked like a story straight out of Pu Songling’s strange tales collection, because that has many stories in which the two worlds interact with surprising consequences. In another story, there is an Indian-Singaporean whose apartment is haunted by three Chinese ghosts, and he tries to figure out how to placate them. One of my favourite stories was that of a dead principal who haunts her school and tries to continue her work like she is still alive.

One of the things I loved about the book was that the stories were realistic. This is the kind of ghost story and haunted story that people will talk about during family gatherings, about haunted houses encountered during their childhood and the ghost of the young woman in their street who couldn’t marry her beloved. Singaporeans seem to have a strong belief in ghosts and haunted houses and many of the stories touch on that.

I loved ‘The Howling Silence‘. If you want to read a book of ghost stories where the stories look real, and are written in a literary style, you’ll like this book.

Have you read ‘The Howling Silence‘ or other books by Catherine Lim?

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