The Heartsick Diaspora, and other stories by Elaine Chiew (PB)

Set in different cities around the world, Elaine Chiew’s award-winning stories travel into the heart of the Singaporean and Malaysian Chinese diasporas to explore the lives of those torn between cultures and juggling divided selves.

'Innovative in format and original in content, it is clever, multilayered, challenging and political. It’s also full of verve and wit.' Monica Ali

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In the title story, four writers find their cultural bonds of friendship tested when a handsome young Asian writer joins their group. In other stories, a brother searches for his sister forced to serve as a comfort woman during World War Two; three Singaporean sisters run a French gourmet restaurant in New York; a woman raps about being a Tiger Mother in Belgravia; and a filmmaker struggles to document the lives of samsui women—Singapore’s thrifty, hardworking construction workers.

Acutely observed, wry and playful, her stories are as worldly and emotionally resonant as the characters themselves. This fabulous debut collection heralds an exciting new literary voice.


'These are stories to savour like the fine food they describe. Sharply observed, funny, sad and entertaining, they leave you more knowledgeable about the world we live in. I loved this book.' Paul McVeigh

'The Heartsick Diaspora is an unflinching examination of the hybrid and hyphenated lives of global nomads, shining a bright light on Singaporean-Chinese voices, but also the larger Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese diaspora. It is philosophical and poetic in turns, and stories like ‘Face’ and ‘The Heartsick Diaspora’ and ‘Mapping Three Lives’ are absolutely stunning. Memorably populated with characters who linger in the mind long after the last story ends, this book is a truly impressive debut, full of humour and heart.' Dipika Mukherjee

'A spectacular read! What a handsome showcase of the consummate storyteller Elaine Chiew. Hers is a winning voice, working in pathos with great élan. We become witness to such a rich understanding of human emotion and desire. Elaine lets scene and character speak for themselves, with such self-assured perspicacity.' Desmond Kon Zhicheng-mingde

'In The Heartsick Diaspora, Elaine Chiew allows us to visit a breadth of experiences among Chinese migrant communities, both past and present. The range of the emotional worlds of the characters represented in the book is depicted in fragments, echoing the disjointed, often repressed manner in which many of the immigrant families communicate with one another. The stories do an outstanding job of capturing an atmosphere that is recognisable, but presented in fresh tales to engage the mind and heart of the reader, even as they entertain. It is a brilliant first collection by Chiew, marking her as a writer to be watched.' Shelly Bryant

'Elaine Chiew’s witty stories in The Heartsick Diaspora offer us a rich palette of feelings and experiences that often converge: humour, melancholy, rage, and tenderness. Issues of race, ethnicity, and cultural identities are embedded in the everyday—in the kitchen, on the bus, or at school—as characters navigate between connection and isolation, visibility and invisibility, familiarity and distance.' Intan Paramaditha, author of Apple and Knife

'The characters in Elaine Chiew's wonderful and vibrant collection, The Heartsick Diaspora, are drawn with so much insight, humor, and compassion. It is an original and beautiful collection.' Karen E. Bender

'The Heartsick Diaspora is thoughtful, complex, emotionally resonant, both aware of the need to establish its own truth and of the danger that need involves... The stories are as deeply felt as they are, on occasion, playful; there’s a kind of impertinence of tone, a creative intelligence that lets Chiew get up skin-close and yet maintain a distance that allows her, and us, to see the larger picture.' Charles Lambert

'Elaine Chiew’s short stories are hugely incisive. Here is a satisfying mix of poignancy and humour, light and dark—an unforgettable journey into the hearts and minds of the displaced. Chiew brings original and multiple award-winning skills to great effect in these sparklingly intelligent explorations of identity and displacement. The added charge in Chiew’s work comes from her impressive range—her clever, nuanced and varied stories are perfectly balanced.' Vanessa Gebbie

Pages: 256

Formats: Paperback

Published: 23 January 2020

Dimensions: 129mm x 198mm

More Information
ISBN 9781912408368
Manufacturer Myriad
Values and causes Myriad
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