Singapore Book Award “Best Non-Fiction Title” 2017 – Finalist
Born in the Year of the Fire Tiger, Ann Wee moved to Singapore in 1950 to marry into a Singaporean Chinese family. One of Singapore’s pioneering social work educators, Ann shares her experiences frankly and with great humour. She remembers the things that history books leave out: questions of hygiene, terms of endearment, the emotional nuance in social relations, stories of ghost wives and changeling babies, rural clan settlements and migrant dormitories, what disappeared when families moved into HDB estates.
Affectionately observed and wittily narrated, with a deep appreciation of how far Singapore has changed, this book brings to life the country’s social transformation by talking about the family, “in its 101 different shapes and sizes, with its capacity to cope which ranges from truly marvellous to distinctly tatty: still, in one form or another, the best place for most of us to be”.
“…required reading for anyone who is keen to learn about the social faultlines in Singapore from the 1950s to the 1980s and why the nation is such an economic, social and political miracle” – Cheong Suk-Wai, The Straits Times
“In narrating the stories of people and places Ann Wee encountered in her local travels in Singapore and Malaya (now Malaysia), she unfolds several untold stories of our past. Her years of “culture learning” of local society will be new to many young Singaporeans today. What she says about the state of ethnographing in Singapore and the rich aspects of local life needs to be told. I am certain that this memoir will be absorbed in society and will serve as a conversation piece to learn about the various aspects of our past heritage and culture.” – S.R. Nathan, Former President of Singapore (1999-2011)
“This is truly the memoir of a social anthropologist; a social observer with a very fine and intricately intuitive grasp of human beings as they relate to each other; someone who dedicated herself to the study and teaching of social work primarily because she habitually saw people as social beings.” – Janadas Devan, Director, Institute of Policy Studies