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Opera Costume

by Yeng Pway Ngon

 
 

Yu Sau, a young Singaporean woman, is left to take care of her grandfather after her parents pass away. Struggling to cope with the indignities of age, the old man remembers how he and his best friend came to Singapore from China as teenagers, and how they both loved Cantonese opera — but only the friend became a professional singer. Meanwhile, Yu Sau struggles to cope with her job, her rocky relationship, and her uncertain place in a rapidly-changing country. When her grandfather dies and her boyfriend leaves her, she realises that she may have to look to her family’s past to truly understand herself. Will she be able to find her two older brothers, one a political exile and one seemingly vanished off the face of the earth — and what secrets are hidden in her grandfather’s old opera costume, now missing?

 

2016 Singapore Literature Prize

 

Helpless before the heavens we part, what sorrow, what rage; the farewell heart clings to the drooping willow, goodbye tears splash the flowers—The old man struggles to remember the lyrics to Revisiting the Long Pavilion Willows, humming bits and pieces. It’s been too long since he’s sung anything, too long since he heard this tune…”

 

Read the excerpt from Words Without Borders.

 

Translated from the Chinese (Singapore) by Jeremy Tiang

 

ISBN: 978-1-911221-08-1

Publication date: May 2018

 

SKU: 9781911221081. Category: .

Synopsis

 

Yu Sau, a young Singaporean woman, is left to take care of her grandfather after her parents pass away. Struggling to cope with the indignities of age, the old man remembers how he and his best friend came to Singapore from China as teenagers, and how they both loved Cantonese opera — but only the friend became a professional singer. Meanwhile, Yu Sau struggles to cope with her job, her rocky relationship, and her uncertain place in a rapidly-changing country. When her grandfather dies and her boyfriend leaves her, she realises that she may have to look to her family’s past to truly understand herself. Will she be able to find her two older brothers, one a political exile and one seemingly vanished off the face of the earth — and what secrets are hidden in her grandfather’s old opera costume, now missing?