The Lies That Build A Marriage

The Lies That Build A Marriage | Suchen Christine Lim
Stories Of The Unsung, Unsaid & Uncelebrated In Singapore

ISBN-13: 978 981 05 8713 0
ISBN-10: 98105 8713 9
Monsoon Books, Singapore.


Finalist for the
Singapore Literature Prize, 2008

Learn more about the new 2017 edition

Jacket Text


A mother finds out her son is gay; a daughter finds out her two mothers are lesbians; a niece stumbles upon the body of her dead uncle dressed in his wife’s sarung kebaya; and old man’s nascent feelings for a Filipino maid lead him back to his suppressed art. Singapore Literature Prize-winning author Suchen Christine Lim delves beneath the island’s prosperity and coded decorum to reveal genuine people facing difficult issues that are normally strictly taboo. One by one, the characters chisel away the prejudice that surrounds them to sculpt a social acceptance of themselves and their circumstances.




‘In The Lies That Build A Marriage, a paperback fiction and new title published by Monsoon Books Singapore, one straightaway senses that Suchen Christine Lim’s efforts at writing and compiling a series of short stories, have been subtly designed to haunt and provoke a straitlaced but thoughtful Singapore with restless, stirring themes that hover like a dark cloud, over the classic immeasurable pain cradled by marginalised communities. … Lim, one of Singapore’s foremost prized writers, draws on her vast writing experience to create bold but loving debates on the open secrets of homosexuality, measured immorality and even the dire consequences of racism….’

~  Suzan Abrams, Malaysian-Indian critic living in Dublin
Website –  Kafez: Books & Writing, 24 Sept 2008


‘I was reading your book in bed this morning and actually (for the second time) burst into tears. It’s so wonderful. The bit that made me cry were the last few lines about the Chinese step-father ‘Gratitude is the best gift’, that bit. Oh it is a superb book. I want to buy it for everyone…. and the story of the two mothers, with the generational slant, was so touching and wonderful I cried in that one too.’

~ Jill Dawson, Poet & Novelist, UK


‘I have read the book more than once – something I rarely do! This is the best of your books if I may say so. It is not just that your writing style is finer and more at ease and fluid with a distinct flavour, but the subject is handled with much passion.  A compelling passion that cannot be ignored and potentially life changing even for those uncomfortable with it – as you describe in your last chapter. The Amah Chiehs are not just people but persons from a neighbourhood. You are able to write about men’s feelings so tenderly – the Chinese stepfather is a deeply moving and heroic figure. The Morning After uses histrionics but touchingly tells a mother’s story without hyperbole. There were no words or no language to talk about being gay or being a stepfather or having aborted a child – at least not in Singapore – there is now.  The world understands what you are saying and it seems that Singapore is ready for it.’

~  Dr Paul L J Tan, FRACP, Chief Executive Officer, New Zealand


‘Ever since I heard her read one of the stories, I have been touched by the humanity and the tragedy that result in the breakdown of communication between people. Looking at the stories that she tells, every time a relationship broke down, it was because of the lack of communication. I also appreciate the book’s Singapore flavour having lived here for more than seven years now.’

~  Jorg Dietze, Jorg Dietzel Brand Consultants, Singapore