Shantih Shantih Shantih: A Peek Into Everyday Singaporeans’ Life || A Book Review

Shantih Shantih Shantih (ARC)

Author: Daryl Qilin Yam

Publisher: Math Paper Press

Released: October 2021

Genre: Fiction

Pages: 124

Format: Hardcover

Characters: Jalil, Dinah, Marilyn, Arman, …

An art student chances upon a former fling at Punggol MRT station. A reporter lies awake at four in the morning, chronically unable to sleep. Two men lie in bed, watching YouTube videos of hail falling in Singapore, while a sugar baby trawls through Google Maps, exploring the homes and neighbourhoods of her former clients.

In this novella by Daryl Qilin Yam, a dozen lonely individuals in Singapore witness a freakish instance of snowfall, lasting for exactly four minutes and twenty-six seconds. Shantih Shantih Shantih is a heady mix of desire and dauntlessness that revels in its interconnections, pulling together a community that is at once together and apart.

First of all, I’d like to thank BooksActually for sending this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Going into this book, I had no idea about the writing style or the format of the book, except for the synopsis which is Singapore experienced snow and there were some witnesses to the event. I was also intrigued when the synopsis mentions about the life of the lonely Singaporeans, hence I accepted the review request.

It’s been a while since I read books with multiple POV. For example, this book starts off with first person point of view (POV) then in the next chapter it’s second person POV. At times, I could say I was struggling with the characters and the different stories that should all connected through the falling of the snow. I think the best word to describe my whole experience with this book is that it’s quirky and different. I appreciate that the author brings me to visit the different life path of the Singaporeans and I somewhat have a clearer vision to their life and experiences. But like I said, there’s something missing or it’s just that the writing style is not meant for me entirely.

Luckily, as I read this book, I do realise the connection between the characters and it was indeed an amazing journey going into the story with their perspective and life stories. This book is honest and it invites the readers to discuss openly about the reality of life. The truth is Singapore consists of a very diverse community, others like migrants also exists and their stories and darkest secrets matter too.

However, after I finished reading that last page, I found out this book won’t a memorable one. The stories aren’t strong enough to be unforgettable. It is a mundane life story about everyone, maybe everyone has their dark secrets and their guilty pleasure but the book ends at a monotonous tone for me. I could be missing things but I wasn’t surprised that much or attracted strongly to certain parts of the book. Yes, maybe I can remember one or two characters but that could be just it.

Overall, if you’re looking for something fresh and quirky, would surely recommend you Shantih Shantih Shantih but I think it’s better to lower your expectation going into this book. Perhaps you’ll enjoy it even more.

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