In one of the last remaining jungles in Singapore, an old bicycle is unearthed in an archaeological dig. Its discovery brings the elderly Lim Ah Cheng back to a time when he rode with his life on the line…
Meticulously researched by the creator of Singapore’s first daily comic strip The House of Lim, cartoonist Cheah Sinann, The Bicycle tells the tale of Toshiro Iwakura, an aristocratic, battle-hardened private haunted by his desire to cycle in the Olympics, and five-year-old street urchin Ah Cheng, who dreams of nothing more than learning how to ride a bike. Their paths cross during the Japanese Occupation, when a unique bond formed over two wheels is quickly put to a life-or-death test.
“The detailed black-and-white drawings, seemingly simple on first glance, illustrate on several levels the complex relationships between invader and inhabitants.”
—Akshita Nanda, The Straits Times
“This first graphic novel from Singapore daily newspaper cartoonist Cheah Sinann is a short but emotionally compressed read, demonstrating the good cartoonist’s ability to fit maximum story into minimal panels…Cheah’s art and story look simple but they’re layered with an emotional complexity that the reader is left to figure out…[a] short but intense story, and one that drives home the cruelty and inhumanity of war, where few people get the luxury of finding lasting peace.”
—Andy Shaw, Grovel and MyM Magazine
“Another wonderful graphic novel that has come out of Epigram Books…which looks to Singapore’s not too distant past and the still reverberating effects of the colonial occupation period.”
—Stephen Hong, Asian American Literature Fans
“Cheah Sinann has created a gem of a story. A touching parable of a young boy and an aristocratic bicycle private. A story that transcends war, hatred and petty nationalism. A universal tale of honour, humanity and sacrifice. And above all love and respect.”
—Kenny Chan, Store Director, Books Kinokuniya
“[A] page turner...Wheeling on a universal appeal, The Bicycle pedals on love, hope and faith amidst the brutal warring track—displaying the unyielding spirit of humanity—making this gem an insightful read.”
—Faith Khong, npTribune
"I recommended The Bicycle to my customers even though I had not read it yet. Somehow, I believed that the friendship between a Japanese soldier and a Chinese boy during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore would make a heartwarming story. And I was right. Wars beget cruelties but sufferings also induce compassion. This story chooses to highlight the latter and reminds us that soldiers are human beings too. Though it has a sad ending and the Noir illustrations add pathos to the scene, I was uplifted after I closed the book. I'm a first-time graphic novel reader and so glad that I started with The Bicycle."
—Anthony Koh Waugh, bookseller and writer, in "My Book of the Year 2018", Singapore Unbound
About the Creator:
Cheah Sinann is a former editorial cartoonist with The Straits Times, where he also produced the popular comic strip The House of Lim for eight years. His cartoon strip Billy & Saltie, which highlights environmental issues in a humorous manner, appears in The Borneo Bulletin in Brunei, and in The Daily Frontier in Bangladesh. His collection Billy & Saltie: Cool Croc was published in 2010. Visit his website at houseofcheah.com.
Size: 152 x 214mm
Published: October 2014