Son of Singapore
Tan Kok Seng
A publishing sensation in the 1970s and 1980s, Son of Singapore traces the extraordinary upbringing of an Everyman. As a Teochew farm boy coming of age during the Japanese Occupation, Tan Kok Seng enters the “university of the world” at only 15, becoming a coolie at the Orchard Road market. On his rounds to the homes of the “Red Hairs”, he befriends a group of Chinese dialect-speaking Caucasians who inspire him to improve himself beyond his humble roots.
Set against Singapore’s push towards self-governance, Tan’s engaging autobiography reflects the pioneering spirit of the times. Written in deceptively simple prose, notable for its English transliteration of Teochew adages, Son of Singapore sensitively captures fast-disappearing places, people and everyday ways of living.
“An autobiographical account of an odd job labourer’s life at the Orchard Road market [that is]…technically and thematically well-crafted.”
—Koh Buck Song, The Straits Times
“…very much a quiet force in the world of Singapore writing.”
—Ilsa Sharp, The Straits Times
“Within the context of Singapore literature, this popular writer’s creations can certainly be regarded as being among the most authentic and widely appealing.”
—Lena Bandara, The Straits Times
“Without pretension, the author sets out to relate his early life…this is a real person telling a real story just as it was.”
—The New Nation
About the Author
Tan Kok Seng is the well-known author of a trilogy of books based on his life: Son of Singapore, Man of Malaysia and Eye on the World. His fourth book is a novel, originally published as Three Sisters of Sz, by Heinemann Asia in 1979.
Tan’s books were all written first in Chinese and afterwards ‘rendered into English’ in a collaborative effort with his former employer, Austin Coates, for whom Tan worked in Malaysia and Hong Kong. Although his four books had been reprinted several times since their first publication, they were out of print for many years. Son of Singapore, Man of Malaysia and Three Sisters of Sze are now available from Epigram Books.
Tan resides in Singapore with his family.
Size: 130 x 200mm
Published: January 2014