The Keepers of Stories
- About the Author
Longlisted for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize 2020
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In post-independence Singapore, tradition clashes with modernity in this compelling tale of the importance of defining one's own story.
When their father Sujakon comes home late one night, raving about bad people coming to take them away, siblings Zuzu and Hakeem are forced to leave everything behind and live in a tent at Changi Beach, with a secret community called Anak Bumi—the Children of the Earth. Here, they learn to live off the land and fend for themselves, and partake in a communal storytelling ritual under the stars called the Wayang Singa. But just as they’ve acclimatised to their new lives, their father disappears without a word and a strange man washes ashore warning of mortal danger from just offshore.
“Through an almost childlike lens of wonder, Suffian Hakim envisions a pre-urban storytelling community without shying away from the violence of resistance and the familiar agonies of modern existence. Mystical and multicultural in its mythologies, The Keepers of Stories is Calvino-esque in its ambitions, yet accessible and full of guileless verve and heart.”
—Cyril Wong, Singapore Literature Prize-winning author of This Side of Heaven
“In this novel, Suffian Hakim creates a cast of identifiable characters and throws them into a magical setting. The result is an enthralling coming-of-age tale, weaved throughout with modern-day fables, demonstrating the power of stories to move, heal and inspire us.”“The frame narrative is an age-old storytelling technique across cultures traceable to classic texts like the Panchatantra and, most popularly, A Thousand and One Nights. In The Keeper of Stories, Suffian Hakim has modernised this form to tell the familiar Singapore tragedy of displacement in the face of unrelenting development. Its stories within the novel suggest a sense of universality at play. Its appeal to the fantastical is not escapist but therapeutic. Suffian’s most serious book to date should be part of a reading list on making sense of trying times.”
—Imran Hashim, author of Annabelle Thong
—Nazry Bahrawi, senior lecturer, Singapore University of Technology and Design
“I was drawn to Suffian Hakim’s narrative the moment I set foot on his island of stories. I find it uncanny that he is essentially filling in the blanks that are missing from the pages of our history books, where facts and imagination meet!”
—Johnny Lau, celebrated creator of Mr Kiasu and Utama, The Sage Slayer
Suffian Hakim is the bestselling author of Harris bin Potter and the Stoned Philosopher and The Minorities both originally self-published and then re-released in new revised editions by Epigram Books. The Straits Times has called him “undoubtedly one of the most whimsical, creative and unpretentious young voices in Singapore literature”. Suffian is currently a writer at Big 3 Media. He was previously a regional content lead at media agency GroupM and has written for television shows such as Random Island and The Noose, and publications Esquire(Singapore) and August Man.
Cover Type: Paperback
Page Count: 256
Year Published: 2021
Size: 225mm x 152mm