Wednesday, January 25, 2012


This is a selection of recent memoirs:

Memoirs of an Ice-Cream Lady by Emily Ho. Memoirs Of An Ice-Cream Lady is a charming and humorous series of anecdotes and reflections by a single Chinese lady, who established and managed an ice-cream parlor selling top-end ice-cream on the small outlying Hong Kong island of Lamma. Here locals and some residents from overseas live in close contact, as observed and recorded here by Emily's unblinkered eye. Comments on the traditional Chinese attitudes to girls and unmarried women mingle with reflections on meddling neighbours, the odd habits of customers, the ingratitude of teenage girls and the antics of feisty ferry passengers. Petty quibbles find perspective from Emily's account of the impact on her neighbourhood of the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and her response to an earthquake disaster on the Chinese Mainland. Emily's perspective is quirky and unique, but unquestionably valid. Behind the amused and critical eye of a modern-day Mrs Gaskell is another object of concern -the writer herself: - what is her place in this world where her own values and emotions are so often at issue with most of those in her milieu?

Master of None: How A Hong Kong High-Flyer Overcame the Devastating Experience of Imprisonment by John Hung. From Stanley Prison, corporate high-flyer John T. Hung recounts his life in a sweep of Hong Kong history over five generations - from his family roots in the 19th century through World War II to the present. The story tracks the richness of his mixed heritage and upbringing, his steady rise and precipitous fall from the pinnacles of corporate Hong Kong to the life-destroying court case and heartbreaking incarceration. With wry and subtle humour, Hung describes his colourful yet volatile life, interwoven into the social, commercial, political and sporting tapestry of Hong Kong and South East Asia. Master of None is a soulful exploration of human achievements, frailties, resilience in the face of adversity, and above all, the importance of family support in overcoming whatever fate may deal us.

The Accidental Entrepreneur: Life and Reflections of Choo Heng Thong by Choo Heng Thong. Born in the post-war baby boom years in Malaya, Choo Heng Thong rose from his humble beginnings in Johor Bahru to become an entrepreneur in the heady days of Singapore's industrialisation in the 1970s. In a very personable style, he has encapsulated his thoughts and experiences, giving a real - and at times whimsical - account of the last six decades of development in Malaysia and Singapore.

Growing Up With Ghosts by Bernice Chauly. Two Malaysians, ethnic Chinese Jane and Sikh-born Surinder, a teacher, married with family disapproval in 1967. Surinder died in a drowning accident in 1973. In this unusual family saga, Bernice uses letters and archival material to tell often-tragic stories from the lives of her forebears. After becoming aware of apparent connections with a family curse involving snakes and their deities, she traces an aged Sikh relative who knows the family's traditions. She tells of her 2009 visit to him near Amritsar and her action at his snake shrine which breaks the curse. With archival documents, family photographs and glossary.

What Glass Ceiling? The Memoirs of Rohini Nanayakkara as told to Michelle Gunawardana by Michelle Gunawardana. Having done it all, from being Sri Lanka's first woman banker, to reaching the very top in the country's financial sector, as CEO of the Bank of Ceylon and later of Seylan Bank, and becoming one of the most highly respected bankers and business leaders in Sri Lanka, Rohini Nanayakkara has no time for dwelling on gender inequalities and inequities. She didn't fight chauvinism; she just ignored it. And for her it ceased to exist. This book tells how she made it despite coming from an average family.

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