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Breaking the Tongue: A Novel by Vyvyane Loh

Breaking the Tongue: A Novel (original 2004; edition 2005)

by Vyvyane Loh

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1192101,247 (3.9)13
Title:Breaking the Tongue: A Novel
Authors:Vyvyane Loh
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2005), Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:2010, book club

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Breaking the Tongue by Vyvyane Loh (2004)


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A book that focuses on those who are not British but are raised to be so, to the point of losing their own identity. This book shows that if you can break the tongue of the natives you can break their culture and pride. ( )
  fade2black81 | Jul 27, 2009 |
This is an amazing work of historical fiction from the pen of Vyvyane Loh. She has created believable characters, particularly the young hero Claude Lim, and put them in an historical setting that is brought alive in this intelligent novel. We see the Chinese family trying to emulate their British colonial masters and watch as their society crumbles in the face of the Japanese invasion of December, 1942. But mostly this is Claude's story as he learns from his Grandmother Siok, befriends the Englishman Jack Winchester and in turn is befriended by the Chinese nurse Han Ling-Li. Slowly Claude matures and becomes reconciled with his Chinese ethnicity. This novel seamlessly blends the personal stories with the turmoil of invasion. One more for my list of great historical novels. ( )
1 vote jwhenderson | Oct 1, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393326543, Paperback)

"Dramatic....One of the most ambitious and accomplished debut novels in recent memory."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review.

"This masterly novel is not only bold and challenging but also beautifully written. The reader will be left breathless by the ending."—Library Journal "A moving accomplishment."—Publishers Weekly, starred review "Vyvyane Loh's richly ambitious narrative weaves the personal and the political into an unforgettable novel."—Claire Messud "In the tradition of Rushdie or Ondaatje, this is one of the most accomplished first novels I've ever seen."—Andrea Barrett  "A revelatory book that is both novel and history, written with splendid and intelligent humanity."—Shirley Hazzard, author of The Great Fire

This brilliant novel chronicles the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in World War II. Central to the story is one Chinese family: Claude, raised to be more British than the British and ashamed of his own heritage; his father, Humphrey, whose Anglophilia blinds him to possible defeat and his wife's dalliances; and the redoubtable Grandma Siok, whose sage advice falls on deaf ears. Expatriates, spies, fifth columnists, and nationalists—including the elusive young woman Ling-Li—mingle in this exotic culture as the Japanese threat looms. Beset by the horror of war and betrayal and, finally, torture, Claude must embrace his true heritage. In the extraordinary final paragraphs of the novel, the language itself breaks into Chinese. With penetrating observation, Vyvyane Loh unfolds the coming-of-age story of a young man and a nation, a story that deals with myth, race, and class, with the ways language shapes perceptions, and with the intrigue and suffering of war. Reading group guide included.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:40 -0400)

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This novel chronicles the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in World War II. Central to the story is one Chinese family. Claude, the son, raised along with his sister to be more British than the British, is profoundly ashamed of his own heritage. Humphrey, the father whose allegiance to the Empire blinds him to the idea of defeat, is also blind to the afternoon assignations of his decorative wife, Cynthia. Observing both the family and the larger landscape is the redoubtable Grandma Siok, whose sage advice and quotations from the ancient Art of War fall on deaf ears. And then there is Ling-Li, the elusive young woman - part nurse, part warrior - who guards secrets. When the British defenses crumble, so too does Claude's world. Beset by war, betrayal, and, finally, torture, he is forced to acknowledge and embrace his true identity.… (more)

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W.W. Norton

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