Catherine Lim, local writers and writing about an transition…

I would first say that I need to read more about local writing, since my current sampling has simply been Catherine Lim.

Based on that, and from other isolated examples, I’m getting the feeling that the better stories are the ones that revolve around the change in values through the generations. I know, because I feel that change. And people caught in the transition – thats where the pain, the displacement, the disruptions are – where all the drama is, and that is perhaps why it makes for such good writing. I’m thinking of the Rafflesian girl who won the commonwealth essay competition based on the writing of a materialistic woman, and the seemingly antediluvian mother. But the main point was about how things changed, and the emotions from both sides… Like I said, I feel those stories because I’m caught in a similar situation too. I can hardly understand the heritage of my parents, and I do feel that sense of loss and alienation, and it pains me to see my parents unable to comprehend the present Singapore, and even more so when I realise that it is the generation of my (our?) parents who have built it, for us to enjoy, take advantage of. And thats where a part of my anger comes from, from my feel that these people, born from the 1940s-60s, they are just seemingly cast away… Thats where the stories of children leaving their families in old folks home… thats where all our staple of stories come from. Of generations losing their piety in a society that has gone such a radical shift in values that there is a disruption. Of course, these are just pretty words, and the critical reader will realise that there has been little substantiation behind these words. But heck.

But well, a transition is a transition, and barring any more sudden, radical shift in values, there just might be an equilibrium, where people become used to the dynamics of change, and come to realise the importance of their parents…

Maybe when that time comes, future scholars will come aross Cat Lim’s works, and see them for what they are, an expression of an era, a snapshot of a society whose values are in transition…


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