Suchen Christine Lim: The Rice Bowl

(1377 words)
  • Amy Lai (Hong Kong Polytechnic University)

Set in the late 1960s when Singapore, recently ousted from Malaysia (1965), was compelled to establish its independence, this novel offers a critique of the nation's new regulated democracy and politics. The authorial voice that emerges is a socially conscious one which levels harsh criticism against the authoritarian politics involved in the creation of a highly disciplined community, focussed on achieving economic progress. Central to the novel is the motif of the “rice bowl”, a powerful symbol of the major concern of the nation's materialistic and dehumanised citizens:

Whether you like it or not people do value their rice bowls. They want flats, they want houses, they want cars, they want money in the …

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Lai, Amy. "The Rice Bowl". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 October 2003
[, accessed 30 June 2015.]