The Scent of the Gods tells the enchanting, haunting story of a young girl's coming of age in Singapore during the tumultuous years of its formation as a nation. Eleven-year-old Su Yen bears witness to the secretive lives of "grown-ups" in her diasporic Chinese family and to the veiled threats in Southeast Asia during the Cold War years. From a child's limited perspective, the novel depicts the emerging awareness of sexuality in both its beauty and its consequences, especially for women. In the context of postcolonial politics, Fiona Cheong skillfully parallels the uncertainties of adolescence with the growing paranoia of a population kept on alert to communist infiltration. In luminous prose, the novel raises timely questions about safety, protection, and democracy--and what one has to give up to achieve them.
Ideal for students and scholars of Asian American and transnational literature, postcolonial history, women's studies, and many other interconnected disciplines, this special edition of The Scent of the Gods includes a contextualizing introduction, a chronology of historical events covered in the novel, and explanatory notes.
This moving and at times highly lyrical first novel presents life in Singapore at its historical juncture of nationhood through the maturing of its protagonist, 11-year-old Su Yen, also known as Esha. An orphan who grew up with the extended family residing in what she calls her ``Great-Grandfather's house,'' Su Yen emerges through personal loss and playful exploration a young woman still curious and sometimes bewildered by racial politics, ideological differences, sexual infatuation, familial/governmental control, and personal choice and freedom. The first book to represent life in Singapore in its full spectrum, it is highly recommended for any library with an interest in international or juvenile literature.-- Cherry Wenying Li, Dickinson Coll. Lib., Carlisle, Pa.