November 2010



Photo of Singapore by William Cho used under a Creative Commons license.

Claire Tham, The Gunpowder Trail and Other Stories (Times Editions, 2003).
A collection of six stories, not exactly short but shorter than novellas, so let’s call them short stories, from a Singaporean author, five of which are set at least in partly in Singapore.  Tham’s characters come from all walks of life, but many of them have a self-destructive bent, and all collide with the confines of social mores.

Xinying Hong wrote this bio of Tham. Here’s an excerpt. Neil Murphy calls the collection very well crafted and engaging. Sign up for a free trial and you can read Peter Nazareth’s review (or this free trial) (and you can tell me what it says). Lars Eckstein (English literatures across the globe: a companion) praises Tham’s acute perception of the idiosyncracies of Singaporean culture. The book was shortlisted for the 2004 Singapore Literature Prize. In her other life, Tham is a partner at a Singapore law firm.

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Photo by tibchris used under a Creative Commons license.

Thomas Roberts, Drake’s Bay (Permanent Press, 2010).
House-hunting one afternoon in Kensington, near Berkeley in the East Bay, San Francisco State history professor Ethan Storey stumbles onto a trail that may or may not lead back to evidence of Sir Francis Drake’s visit to the Bay Area more than four hundred years ago. As he soon discovers, the mystery is of more-than-academic interest to some rich and powerful interests, and Storey’s efforts to uncover the truth prove to be hazardous to his health. Without giving the plot away, I will say that the story (and Storey) move around the Bay Area, from Kensington and Berkeley to San Francisco to Richmond, both on and off the water.

Here’s the publisher’s page. Clark Isaacs says it features excellent prose. CelticLady calls it a suspenseful and entertaining story. Jenna A. recommends it highly.  Laura Pryor says it’s an old-school mystery (scroll down) that relies on intelligent plot twists and well-paced revelations, rather than relentless violence and gore. It’s on (UC Berkeley’s) Bancroft Library’s list of mysteries set in the Bay Area.  Mary Rees chatted with Roberts.  And here is Wikipedia’s page on Sir Francis Drake. Did he visit the Bay Area?

Buy it at Half.com.