“Affecting, lushly textured historical novel... a fine, deeply felt saga of lives caught up in progress that's as heartbreaking as it is hopeful.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Here is the buoyancy of sentences and a testimony of resilience.” —Krys Lee, author of The Drifting House
“Just as the best novels should be but so rarely are: like immersion in a vivid dream. I couldn't decide whether to read it slowly in order to savor every word, or to race along, mesmerized by Lim's dazzling storytelling.” —Jill Dawson, author of The Great Lover
“Powerful, deep and moving—draws you in and pulls you along irresistibly. Its heartfelt swell will carry you away to a place of passion and resonant conviction." —Kevin MacNeil, author of the best-selling The Stornoway Way
“A touching story that retrieves Singapore's fast disappearing past and gives its famous river the depth and color of a people's history, and a wonderful rendition of the pipa, on the page, as mother and daughter play their songs from the heart.” —Romesh Gunasekera, author of Reef, shortlisted for the Booker Prize
Ping, the daughter of Chinatown's Pipa Queen, loves Weng, the voice of the people, but family circumstances drive them apart. While Ping goes to university in America, Weng is sent to prison for his part in local protests.
Many years later, Ping returns to a country transformed by prosperity. Gone are the boatmen and hawkers who once lived along the river. In their place, rise luminous glass and steel towers proclaiming the power of the city-state. Can Ping face her former lover and reveal the secret that has separated them for over thirty years?
A beautifully written exploration of identity, love and loss, set against the social upheaval created by the rise of Singapore.