Ponti by Sharlene Teo

a nutshell: a sultry, atmospheric amble through Singapore from the 1970s to 2020, this novel ponders three troubled women: teenage Szu, her mother Amisa, and Szu’s friend Circe

a line: “I longed for a thick, soupy silence, calm walls behind which nothing hateful happened”

an image: Teo delivers many beautiful images but for me the stand-out was in fact for its hilarity – the hideously funny, highly anthropomorphised imagery of Circe’s mischievous tapeworm

a thought: conversations between Szu and Circe – both of whom are school outcasts – were weighted with very real teen angst, e.g. seeking out things to buy that’ll help them feel prettier, stronger, inoculated against the world

a fact: ‘ponti’ is short for Pontianak – a female vampiric ghost in Malay mythology (a role that Amisa, an actress of bygone days, plays in a trilogy of horror movies … and real life?)

 

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