A Different Sky

Overview

A dazzling, sweeping novel telling the history of Singapore through the moving stories of three families whose lives become intertwined
 Singapore—a trading post where different lives jostle and mix. It is 1927, and three young people are starting to question whether this in-between island can ever truly be their home. Mei Lan comes from a famous Chinese dynasty but yearns to free herself from its stifling traditions; 10-year-old Howard seethes at the indignities ...

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A Different Sky

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Overview

A dazzling, sweeping novel telling the history of Singapore through the moving stories of three families whose lives become intertwined
 Singapore—a trading post where different lives jostle and mix. It is 1927, and three young people are starting to question whether this in-between island can ever truly be their home. Mei Lan comes from a famous Chinese dynasty but yearns to free herself from its stifling traditions; 10-year-old Howard seethes at the indignities heaped on his fellow Eurasians by the colonial British; Raj, fresh off the boat from India, wants only to work hard and become a successful businessman. As the years pass, and World War II sweeps through the east, with the Japanese occupying Singapore, the three are thrown together in unexpected ways, and tested to breaking point. Richly evocative, this novel paints a scintillating panorama of 30 tumultuous years in Singapore's history through the passions and struggles of characters the reader will find it hard to forget.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Chand (A Far Horizon) proves herself a master of the modern Asian epic in this tale of Singapore citizens whose lives intersect from 1927 to 1956 as the island strains under British colonial rule, suffers through Japanese occupation, and struggles to turn its racially mixed, socially divided, politically turbulent society into a viable independent state. The novel begins with the Kreta Ayer riot, witnessed from a trolley by, among others, Howard Burns, a young, grumpy Eurasian boy; a well-off and pampered Chinese girl, Mei Lan; and a hardworking, kindhearted Indian immigrant, Raj Sherma. Protected from the mounting turmoil, Howard and Mei Lin grow up and grow together, hoping to dismantle the social barriers between them, but WWII forces them apart. Howard takes uneasy refuge with Communist guerrillas, a kinder fate than befalls Mei Lan, who is captured and brutalized by the Japanese. Readers are immersed in Howard’s ordeal as well as that of his mother, whose house has been commandeered by the Japanese, and his sister, a nurse whose English husband is marched off to a POW camp. As Mei Lan is tortured, her once wealthy Chinese family must make a difficult adjustment in order to survive the Japanese occupation. And Raj enjoys successes in business as his sister’s marriage to his close friend seems destined to fail. After the war, Howard’s, Mei Lan’s, and Raj’s paths converge again as they deal with new difficulties and old injustices. Chand endows her characters with humanity and complexity, making them representative without being stereotypes. She avoids clichés by grounding her characters and their histories in solid research, and offers a credible, compelling panorama of the tragedy and resilience, culture and individuality, political evolution, dissolution, and renaissance of 20th-century Singapore. (Nov.)
From the Publisher

"Chand is a skilled storyteller and a conscientious researcher who weaves gripping adventure, magnificent romance and well-informed history into the sort of book it’s difficult to put down and impossible to read in bed if you want a good night’s sleep!"  —Historic Novels Review

"This meticulously researched book is alive with engrossing detail, whether on the odour of Chinatown, the privations of a guerilla camp or the appalling rituals of foot binding."  —Guardian

"Historical fiction at its most complex and engaging . . . balances the communist groupings, Japanese occupation and emerging nationalism with skill . . . As history A Different Sky is engrossing: as fiction, highly enjoyable."  —Literary Review

"[Chand] proves herself a master of the modern Asian epic in this tale…[she] offers a credible, compelling panorama of the tragedy and resilience, culture and individuality, political evolution, dissolution, and renaissance of 20th-century Singapore."—Publishers Weekly

"the protagonists are richly and deeply drawn, the sights, sounds, and smells of Singapore are gorgeously rendered, and the principal characters' interwoven stories combine to form a compelling narrative."—Booklist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780099546245
  • Publisher: Random House UK
  • Publication date: 10/1/2011
  • Pages: 488
  • Sales rank: 804,964
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author


Meira Chand is the author of several novels, including A Far Horizon.
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