Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pulse by Lydia Kwa

Natalie Chia is a 48-year-old lesbian acupuncturist in Toronto. She had moved from Singapore to Canada with her parents when she was a young woman. Since then, Natalie has had little contact with her old lover, Faridah. But a letter from Faridah brings sad news; Faridah's son, Selim, has committed suicide. Natalie decides to attend the memorial service in Singapore out of loyalty to her friend and because she liked Selim, a young gay man who shared Natalie's interest in kinbaku - a Japanese form of erotic bondage. She is also puzzled about why he killed himself... if it was indeed suicide.

The settings - Toronto's Chinatown and Kensington Market areas as well as Singapore's bustling Joo Chiat district - are richly detailed. Descriptions of colours, architectural details, voices, specific music and street food all add to the feeling of being there in the middle of it all. This quality gives an earthy balance to the cerebral, reflective tone of the story. Natalie is an incest survivor. She promised herself that she would never let anyone get close enough to her heart to hurt her again. "Memories hurt us. Or is it truer to say that it's our refusal to release ourselves from our past that's the cause of our pain?" Natalie grapples with forgiveness as her trip stirs up memories from her past.

Lydia Kwa' s earlier novels, This Place Called Absence and Walking Boy are also recommended.

1 comment:

Lydia Kwa said...

Thank you, Lindy, for reading my novels. Much appreciated. Very best, Lydia Kwa.