| Singapore | 6 July 2016 | Asia Samachar |
By Anandpreet Kaur
Sugarbread talks about a 10-year old girl from the Punjabi-Sikh community in Singapore searching for clues of her past through her mother’s cooking.
The novel touches on delicate issues of race and religion, and brings light to the colourful Punjabi-Sikh community.
Sugarbread, authored by Balli Kaur Jaswal while she was still studying in university in United States a decade ago, was one of the finalists for the 2015 Epigram Books Fiction Prize.
“I was in America and facing all those questions about where I belong and also the complex sort of dilemma of where should I go next. You know, should I stay in America, should I go back home… Then where is home exactly?” Balli says in an interview shared at Singapore-based independent publisher Epigram Books website.
The Singapore-born Balli, who now teaches at an international school in Istanbul, is also the author of Inheritance, said to be the first English-language novel about Singapore’s Punjabi-Sikh diaspora.
The novel got the 33-year old named “Best Young Australian Novelist” in 2014 by Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald for Inheritance.
In Sugarbread, the 10-year old Pin must not become like her mother but nobody is telling her why.
She seeks clues in Ma’s cooking when she’s not fighting other battles—being a bursary girl at an elite school and facing racial taunts from the bus uncle, according to the synopsis of the book.
Then her meddlesome grandmother moves in, installing a portrait of a watchful Sikh guru and a new set of house rules. Old secrets begin to surface but can Pin handle learning the truth?
In the same interview shared at the Epigram Books website, Balli says there are a lot of strong, conservative women in the novel.
“In a conservative culture, in a conservative community it’s the women who’s honour has to be protected, it’s the women who could potentially shame the family,” she said.
Basically, Pin’s mothers struggle was that of embracing the Western culture and feeling guilty about it. Finding a middle ground of integration of the two.
“A big part of the novel is also food, I love food,” she said, breaking out in laughter.
Book Trailer at Epigram Books:
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