Monday, 21 April 2014

Spirit of the Tiger by Nathan Veerasamy

Spirit of the Tiger is a collection of three novellas all based on actual events in Singapore at different times in its history. There are links between the three stories in the characters but not the story lines.

I loved all three of these beautifully written stories and learned a lot about the country, its history and its people.

First story is about the author’s maternal great grandfather. It begins with the main character, Yahng, performing a ritual requested by his dying father. He does not believe in black magic, or for that matter any form of magic but he had promised his father so he sees it through.

Yahng unsuccessfully challenges the deep superstition of his community and his evil brother but is supported by the wise man of the village, Jenang.

After moving to Singapore, Yahng is required to act as guide for a tiger hunt. It is a role he is not comfortable with knowing the tiger will be shot at the end of the day. The final outcome is touching. 

The Afterword to this story poignantly draws a comparison between superstition and the present day culture of misinformation. It is a piece I will read and re-read again.

The second story is based on the author’s father’s exploits in World War II and gives the reader an insight into a little known aspect of the war in Singapore when a young man and his mentor form a resistance group to fight the Japanese.

The final story opens with a beautiful description of a sad, decaying but once happy home.

Two families, one rich one poor, are brought together through the courtship of three brothers and three sisters. Following a murder the families are unable to come to grips with the thought that one of them may be a killer.  The investigation also reveals that some of the family members are not who they were thought to be.

My rating 5*