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🇸🇬 PONTI, by Sharlene Teo
Amisa Tan was a horror movie star, played as Ponti, or in Indonesian called as “Kuntilanak”, an evil spirit woman who’s killing men with her alluring facade. Her only daughter; Szu, struggles in her teenage years with no any real friend before she finally meet Circe at their full-of-bullies-and-superficiality school.
Szu disliked herself and wonder how it would be like if she had a beautiful face just like her mom. But she also hates her mother whether as Ponti and as a human. She’s longing for her long-lost father; Wei Loong, wonder what mistakes she had done that made her father left them since she was a kid.
Szu’s bestfriend Circe has an attractive brother that she really proud of. Like Szu, she’s not sure what she really wants in her life, both living their life nonchalantly. But unlike Szu, Circe feel there’s something that connects her with Amisa.
Not only focused in mother-daughter relationship, there are three point-of-views the story being told, each with its own settings and different stages of life. First in first-person narrative, from Szu, a 16-year-old Singaporean girl in 2003 with her entertaining sarcastic remarks. Then Circe, a thirty-something career woman in 2020, also in first-person narrative with her attentive and humorous skepticism. The final one, Amisa’s story is a little bit different, told in third-person point of view, starts from when she was ten in 1968, born and lived in Kampong Mimpi Sedih which literally means “Sad Dreams Village”, where adults alarmed their children with scary folklores such as Orang Minyak.
As a man, I love this coming-of-age story because not only it helps me to dive in, to understand more about girls and women struggles in life, thanks to Sharlene Teo’s believable and realistic portrayal of her fictional characters here, but also a glimpse of what Singapore really is. As an Indonesian, my unconscious part of my mind was always thinking Singapore only as a tourist destination, but reading this as my first #SingaporeanLiterature widen my perspective about this one of Indonesia’s neighbouring countries. I also love how sister-brother relationships also play some part in the story, something I rarely read in a novel in a such subtle yet beautiful way.
#PONTI #SharleneTeo #AsianLiterature #SouthEastAsianLiterature #SingLit #SGLiterature #SingaporeLiterature #SEALiterature #Literature #Drawings #Novel #Book #Ello @Ello #Elloillustrations @ElloIllustrations #Bibliophile.