Read The World — The River’s Song by Suchen Christine Lim (Singapore)

Jo Reason
3 min readMay 31, 2021


Country 26 Singapore, blurb from

A beautifully written exploration of identity, love and loss, set against the social upheaval created by the rise of Singapore.

Ping, the daughter of Chinatown’s Pipa Queen, loves Weng, the voice of the people, but family circumstances drive them apart. While Ping goes to university in America, Weng is sent to prison for his part in local protests.
Many years later, Ping returns to a country transformed by prosperity. Gone are the boatmen and hawkers who once lived along the river. In their place, rise luminous glass and steel towers proclaiming the power of the city state. Can Ping face her former lover and reveal the secret that has separated them for over thirty years?

Quote “I was born on a bumboat and grew up on the river. My music comes from these waters. This is where Pa taught me to play the dizi. He never left the river even after we moved”

My Review

This is a fictional story about real life events about the clean up of the Singapore river, the writing really draws you into the book with the descriptions of the streets and businesses around the river, you can almost see yourself walking along and smelling all the wonderful food being cooked, but you can also see the poverty that these people lived in as well as the neighbourhood feeling they had together.

There is a sense of sadness about this, but also hope as they move into the future and hopefully improve the area for all.

I read this book slowly, savouring every description, detail, smell and musical note, While I was reading the book I had no idea of how it was going to end. The book is very emotional, especially towards the end, with the reunion of all the people from years ago.

Music is a large part of this book, there are some great details and descriptions of the pipa, an chinese traditional guitar and the flute or the dizi.

The relationship between Ping and her mother Ah-ku was always a difficult one, I found it hard that Ping never really was able to forgive her mother for all the hardships. I enjoyed Ping’s character as a child, but not so much as an adult.

I give this book 4 stars, the next country in read the world is Palestine, with the book Mornings in Jenin

Originally published at on May 31, 2021.



Jo Reason

Photographer and web designer from the UK but living in Ecuador, spending as much time as I can reading and reviewing books. Stock photography of Ecuador