Suchen Christine Lim
“A fictionist who dares to voice the unspeakable”
                                      ~ Philippine Daily Inquirer
   Home            Fistful Of Colours

ISBN 981 248 012 9
SNP International, Singapore, 1993.
New edition in 2003.
SNP is now an imprint of Singapore Press Holdings, SPH Singapore.
Fistful of Colours novel by Suchen Christine Lim

Jacket Text:
Suwen faces molestation and betrayal, which drives her to paint a controversial picture, and to leave Singapore for the small Malaysian town where her dream of becoming an artist first took root. Nica defies her father in pursuing art rather than medicine. In her quest to be her own person, she chooses to live with her companion, and expresses herself through her paintings and sketches. Janice seeks a destiny rooted in Singapore, and in doing so, rejects her father's firmly held beliefs and values. She leaves home to marry a Malay-Muslim journalist, breaking away from her father's influence.
Through family histories, the novel weaves a rich tapestry which celebrates the multi-ethnicity of Singapore and the socio-political milieu of her early immigrants.

Fistful of Colours is an elegant, multi-layered reflection of what it means to be Singaporean, through a single day in the life of Suwen, a young teacher struggling to define herself as a person and as an artist. In her search, she examines the rich history of her stepfather's family, and uncovers the many hopes and trials of Singapore's early immigrant community - from Chinese coolies and Malay waiters to Indian doctors, nobody is spared the consequences of changing times. Against this backdrop, Suwen's friends explore the themes of art, love, freedom and betrayal. Through Suchen Christine Lim's masterful storytelling and vibrant language, the Singapore of yesterday and today converge.
“Fistful of Colours is a significant contribution to Singapore’s literature. The story is rich with local flavours and aroma, the characters are vividly drawn and believable, and I particularly empathise with the sad lives of the women in the story.”
~  Professor Tommy Koh, Ambassador-At-Large, Singapore

“It is fitting that Suchen Christine Lim’s third novel was the inaugural winner of the Singapore Literature Prize. If there were one work of local literature which has attempted to incorporate the history of all four of the city’s main racial groups within its covers, Fistful of Colours would be it. The protagonist is Suwen, a Singaporean Chinese college teacher and sometime artist who, at the start of the book, has mounted an exhibition of erotic paintings, shocking the strait-laced nation and resulting in many outraged letters to the press. But as readers delve into her family’s past and that of her friends’ families, they discover that the seething melting pot of old Singapore was a far cry from the sanitised version today.”
~  Stephanie Yap, The Sunday Times, Singapore

“This is a book you find difficult to put down once you start reading… The story begins with Suwen, recalling the day her stepfather tried to molest her. This event left her with emotional scars that inhibited her ability to express herself, either in communication with her friends or in her art. It took the betrayal of her friends Mark and Nica to release the pent-up emotions in her…”
~  Zalina Mohd. Lazim,
Tenggara, Journal of SE Asian Literature, Malaysia

“…the novel presents different modes of narration and then breaks the imperatives of these modes, providing new perspectives, moving away from the linear to the spiral, calling like sculpture for three-dimensional perception. Providing the unwritten story, the novel breaks out of the traps of written texts, even the ones it provides …Lim is re-creating the Singapore identity out of a heterogeneous people yoked together by the demands and histories of various exploiters.”
~  Professor Peter Nazareth, University of Iowa, USA
Suchen's third novel
Fisftul Of Colours
was awarded the inaugural
Singapore Literature Prize, 1992
Copyright owned by Suchen Christine Lim. All rights reserved.