Beng Beng Revolution.


Thoroughly entertaining and often witty, this book sheds light on a not-so-distant Singapore - One where our favourite narrative of a "city state with no natural resources" is taken to the logical extreme.

The author's thesis/thought experiment is devilishly simple: "What would happen to Singapore in a world where we run out of oil (to be specific: all forms of energy, natural or otherwise)".

What follows is a fantastic dystopian piece of fiction.I found myself smiling and laughing and generally being thoroughly entertained when reading this 200 odd page novel.

The dialogue was witty, characters were well-fleshed and the plot constantly kept me on my toes. It also brought me such joy to see beautiful literature ("The doctor's expression of benevolent geniality had evolved into one of beaming cordiality") juxtaposed with casual everyday Singlish ("Really, meh?"). The contrast of perfect english (authors voice) with Singlish (dialogue) was perhaps my favourite part of the book.

The biggest laugh came in the first chapter, when Grandfather was attempting to learn his grandson Huat's 'new' anglicised name. When I saw just how clever that dialogue was, I knew I was in for quite the ride - and I wasn't wrong.

I also saw a lot of deeper meaning in the subtext of the storyline. In some cases, clearly fleshed out in a government collapse post depravation, in others more nuanced and requiring some deeper thinking. It'll take me some time to ponder and reflect on what the "Power" means, and why certain political factions decided to act certain way due to certain reasons (this, doesn't count as a spoiler. Does it?). I feel Beng Beng Revolution requires a second or perhaps a third reading if one wishes to extract all of the themes the author tackled in this book.

Though the narrative may not have always stayed perfectly consistent, and with a couple of a very sudden shifts in plot, the author's voice shines through each page - it is her first book after all. My only complaint is that the book ought to have been far longer to do justice to the story. (think: Parasite but maybe not as well executed. People forget it took over 2 hours for director Bong to pull _that_ off).

Beng Beng Revolution should be on the reading list of anyone looking to delve into the world (local) literature. This was my first Epigram book (I think! Does Alfian Sa'at's books count?) and can't wait for my next read.

(As a side note, I'm something of an acquaintance with the author - she is a senior of mine in university. I always knew the importance of having role models who you can aspire to emulate in theory but never truly understood the impact of _actually_ having someone in your 1.5 degree of separation being able to produce a work of such quality - that too in hardcopy!

I'm inspired, and hope I too can perhaps write something of this quality in a not-so-distant future)