Ministry of Moral Panic, by Amanda Lee Koe
[Image courtesy of Epigram Books]
This must be a year of short stories for me, because I’ve never read so many short story collections in one year before, and surprisingly, I liked most of what I read. Yup, and I like this collection too.
I started reading this without knowing that all the stories had one single theme – love. The author managed to explore this theme in a number of ways, sometimes in an expected manner, but most times not, which made it a refreshing read. In fact, this has to be one of the few local literature that I’ve come across so far that is so bold in expressing the different facades that one would not commonly associate with Singapore. I say this because Singapore has often been criticized for its conservative approach in the arts, and our lack of freedom of speech. This collection will probably show one how far we’ve come where literature is concerned. Of course, I’m not saying we’ve “arrived”, and the nation definitely has a long long way to go in this area, but I think this is an example of what’s possible.
I’m really glad this collection got published, and even won a couple of prizes.
VERDICT: I wouldn’t say this collection of stories will allow you to understand Singapore more, but the stories might just surprise you with their unexpected twists and emotional depth.