Singapore is what your city could become if everyone obeyed the rules, did their jobs diligently and just shut up. When your city gets to be this paragon of efficiency and discipline, would you still want to live there? Singapore is a model city, which is terrific if you happen to be a model human.
Indeed, I have always admired and felt very strongly for this sovereign city-state of South Asia which has evolved and how!! Be it its culture- both life, as well as work, its heritage, History, Technological advancements, all of these, have always fascinated me.
Not only is Singapore an absolutely fabulous place, but the complete background, as well as the story behind its evolution as well as its journey to becoming one of the most successful and contented places in the world, has always left me amazed.
Today, my book in review, Tabula Rasa by Jayanthi Sankar, fortunately, has given me an absolutely detailed, illustrious insight into not only the History of its origin but also shed an interesting light on many other such facets that pose a mystery but are often left unanswered. A Historical Fiction that explores and delves into the journey of Singapore from Ancient to Modern times, through its diverse characters right up to the 13th century where the story takes us. It starts with the Story of Muthu, the emigrant seeking his family and soon proceeds to many other such characters and their life pursuits such as Adnan, Lily, Li Xui Wing, Li Wei and others. It is a bit tricky keeping up with the characters and their individual details over the transitional phases portrayed in the book but nevertheless, one shall be hooked onto the same once you start reading it.
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I must commend the extensive amount of research, evident by Jayanthi, which gives a whole new perspective to the Story and forms a very strong, refreshing aspect of it.
What I especially would like to mention that I enjoyed reading were the sticky note conversations between Li Wei and his mother. They make up for an indulgent read.
Not only is Jayanthi’s writing lucid but also descriptive, richly detailing the backgrounds of the nation involved as well as ensuring that these insights play a vital part in the execution of the story to its eventual stages.
Tabula Rasa is actually a Latin term which means a clean or blank slate. It denotes how a person who comes to this world has no mental thoughts or preconceived suppositions as regards the experiences of life.
I think it is one of the most unique as well as creatively excellent titles used by a writer in recent times. The entire History of Singapore, one of the global financial hubs of the world right from the time when it was not such a powerful or impacting economy, intrigued me the most. Although, I personally feel better editing the book in terms of transitioning the story over the various phased out timelines depicted could have done wonders for the book.it does become a bit endearing after a point to keep track of the characters as the transitions are not extremely smooth. Actually, once the little bit of confusion owing to these overlaps occurs, it kind of becomes a bit confusing along with the strong cohesiveness of the plot being lost.
Not only are Jayanthi’s characterizations vivid, but they also subtly and surely they grow and build on you. The core idea is brilliant and so is the research attached. With a bit of fine editing, this would be a shinier star. Nevertheless, it is a superb Historical fiction, one exploring not only History but several other aspects which shall surely form a very indulging read for fans of historical fiction for a long time. A superb confluence, an amalgamation of the past and present of Singapore, how to present Singapore came to be is the gist of the story. I must add that Jayanthi’s love for Singapore is seen through her fine writing.
Looking forward to Jayanthi Sankar’s next work.