The Inlet by Claire Tham
The Inlet by Claire Tham

The Inlet

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by Claire Tham

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• The Inlet was shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize, 2014 (English Fiction category)

A young female Chinese national drowns in a private swimming pool in a wealthy enclave on a resort island just off the Singapore mainland. The house where she is found belongs to one of the wealthiest property developers in Singapore. The ripple effects on everyone affected by the incident – the investigating officer, the homeowner and his nephew, the girl’s family – are examined from their point of view. Based loosely on a true incident, The Inlet explores the social and cultural changes that have washed over Singapore society in recent years.
The Inlet is also translated into Italian: La Ragazza Del Karaoke is published by Metropoli d'Asia and available here.

About the Author

At the age of seventeen, Tham won two second prizes in the 1984 National Short Story Writing Competition for “Homecoming” and “Fascist Rock.” Her debut collection, Fascist Rock: Stories of Rebellion (1990), secured the National Book Development Council of Singapore Commendation Award (Fiction) in 1992. Saving the Rainforest and Other Stories (1993) won a Highly Commended Award (Fiction) from NBDCS in 1995. She has also collected two Golden Point Awards, in 1999 and 2001, for her stories, The Gunpowder Trail and Driving Sideways. “Lee” (from Fascist Rock), was adapted for television on MediaCorp’s Alter Asians, while the title story from Tham’s third collection, The Gunpowder Trail and Other Stories (2003) has been adapted for the stage. Tham read Law at Oxford. She is currently a partner at a law firm in Singapore.


"The Inlet is a fantastic example of how great Singapore fiction can be. Part mystery, part clear-eyed yet affectionate dissection of Singapore's changing society, The Inlet is a story as gripping as the real-life newspaper headlines the story was culled from. One of the best things about The Inlet is its objectivity. No matter which side the author personally is on when it comes to immigration and the changing social composition of Singapore, she allows different stakeholders a say. The narrative is a polyphonic symphony of their various points of view... Through their different eyes, one pieces together a picture of a Singapore evolving rapidly and unnervingly. Alongside the angst and socio-political commentary, the narrative gains momentum, revving up the thrills as readers slowly unravel what really happened to Ling... it is a journey so fascinating that readers will not only stay on the ride but also beg for another go soon."
- Akshita Nanda, The Straits Times

"[Claire Tham] is known for her social critiques and biting observations of human nature. Her past works are characterised by taut writing and the tension between society and the individual, and this novel does not disappoint in those respects. I would even go so far as to say that The Inlet is currently my recommendation for any reader new to Singapore literature, or even to Singapore itself."
- Stephanie Ye, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore

“the critical insight into contemporary Singaporean life is penetrating”
Arnapurna Rath, Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar, IndiaAsiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language & Literature

Tham’s greatest strength in this narrative is the unsentimental depictions: characters’ flaws strike the reader with their rawness.
Stephen Hong, Assistant Professor at University of California, Asian American Literature Fans

Read more reviews at Goodreads.

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ISBN: 978-981-07-7384-7
Published: 2013
Dimension: 130mm x 200mm
Extent: 376
Finish: Paperback