When a Flower Dies by Josephine Chia front cover
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When a Flower Dies

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by Josephine Chia

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What can we recover after a life passes on?

A novel about love, forgetting and remembering. Pansy Lim, a Peranakan  girl,  was brought up in a seaside village in colonial Singapore in the 1940s.

She inherits her mother’s love for flowers, nature, the sea, and their healing qualities. Educated by English nuns, she learns and grows to love English, literature and poetry.

We see her at the start of the novel, aged, forgetful, and desperately clinging to memories of her recently deceased husband.

Through her recollections, she remembers George Chan, the village life that they shared, and the communal past left behind by a nation always on the move.

About the Author

Josephine Chia is a Peranakan author and is published internationally in both fiction and non-fiction. She was born in Kampong Potong Pasir in colonial Singapore. Her first short stories were published in SINGA, a Singapore literary journal published in the 1980s and 1990s.

She immigrated to England in 1985. In 1992, she became one of twelve winners of the Ian St. James Awards for short fiction, the first Singaporean to win the award. Her story “Tropical Fever” was published together with the other authors in an anthology, Blood, Sweat And Tears, published by Fontana, an imprint of Harper Collins. Since then, she has also been published by other UK publishers as well as Malaysian and Singapore publishers and has won other awards and prizes. She has returned home to live since 2012.

Ethos Books brought out a new edition of her first novel, My Mother-In-Law’s Son, in 2013. Serambi Indonesia translated her first memoir, Frog Under a Coconut Shell into Bahasa Indonesia with the title, Katak Dalam Tempurung. Her second memoir about her village, Kampong Spirit, Gotong Royong: Life in Potong Pasir 1955 to 1965, won the Singapore Literature Prize for Non-Fiction in 2014. It has been scheduled for translation into Malay by Pustaka Nasional.

Josephine was Writer-In-Residence at Gardens by the Bay in 2014. She has participated in several Literary Festivals and Book Fairs around the world. She is a member of UK’s Society of Authors UK’s Society of Women Writers and Journalists.


“When I pick up one of Josephine Chia’s books on Singapore’s past, I always know that I’m in for a treat. Josephine brings her readers back to the Singapore of the 1950s and 60s that she grew up in and, in her simple, accessible prose she realistically evokes its sights and sounds and smells. In doing so, she helps us to re-live and re-imagine those days and, in singing her song, she helps us to sing ours.” −Angeline Yap, poet and author of “Closing My Eyes to Listen”

“When it comes to historical fiction, Josephine Chia is in a class of her own. Combining beautifully history with memory, strong reality with desired fantasy, she has woven a poetical tapestry that proves engaging, even alluring. I have no doubt that this novel will appeal to readers old and young, Singaporean and non-Singaporean for it is, ultimately, about love. Love in its manifold splendour.” − Dr Kirpal Singh, author of Thinking Hats & Coloured Turbans and Director, Wee Kim Wee Centre, Singapore Management University

• • •

ISBN: 978-981-09-6314-9
Published: 2015
Dimension: 130mm x 200mm
Extent: 292
Finish: Paperback



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