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The Dogs

O Thiam chin
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Overview

In The Dogs, Guan, a middle-aged man, decides to move back into the flat that
had once belonged to his late father, who had died in it a few months back. He
sells off his old flat and, in the process, estranges himself from his own son, who
is at a loss over his father’s sudden decision. While trying to settle in and to make
sense of the new surroundings, Guan slowly gets to know the residents of the
block and becomes acquainted with a neighbour, an old lonely man who dresses in
his dead wife’s clothes. As Guan explores and discovers more of the estate he
lives in, through his long walks, he starts to have flashbacks about his past, vividly
remembering his childhood in a kampong in Singapore in the 1950s, and his close
friendship with Heng Chong, a schoolmate. He recalls the pranks and games they
played, the mischief they got into—prowling the Sembawang Hills estate and
setting the dogs free from the big houses in that estate—and the secrets they
shared, one of which was the mysterious death of Heng Chong’s baby sister who
died during birth, something which set the boys on a quest to find the truth behind
it. As they delved more and more into their investigations, the friendship between
them was slowly tested, gradually revealing the cracks that began to tear them
apart. The arrival of a stray dog in their kampong, one that the boys adopted as
their own, soon proved to be the catalyst that sparked off a chain of events that
led to the dissolution of their friendship, and the unforeseen death of a loved one
that cast a long, indelible shadow over Guan’s life subsequently. As Guan looks
back into the past to find the answers to the mystery that surrounded this tragic
death, he also comes to a clearer understanding of his present predication and
learns to cope with his own personal losses and find ways to redeem himself from
his past acts. In the act of negotiating his past and his pain, Guan finds new hopes
in his solitude, and a new life he’s slowly building with hard-won resilience,
fortitude and purpose.

Imprint:

Published: May/2020

ISBN: 9789814882873

Length: 376 Pages

The Dogs

O Thiam chin
Overview

In The Dogs, Guan, a middle-aged man, decides to move back into the flat that
had once belonged to his late father, who had died in it a few months back. He
sells off his old flat and, in the process, estranges himself from his own son, who
is at a loss over his father’s sudden decision. While trying to settle in and to make
sense of the new surroundings, Guan slowly gets to know the residents of the
block and becomes acquainted with a neighbour, an old lonely man who dresses in
his dead wife’s clothes. As Guan explores and discovers more of the estate he
lives in, through his long walks, he starts to have flashbacks about his past, vividly
remembering his childhood in a kampong in Singapore in the 1950s, and his close
friendship with Heng Chong, a schoolmate. He recalls the pranks and games they
played, the mischief they got into—prowling the Sembawang Hills estate and
setting the dogs free from the big houses in that estate—and the secrets they
shared, one of which was the mysterious death of Heng Chong’s baby sister who
died during birth, something which set the boys on a quest to find the truth behind
it. As they delved more and more into their investigations, the friendship between
them was slowly tested, gradually revealing the cracks that began to tear them
apart. The arrival of a stray dog in their kampong, one that the boys adopted as
their own, soon proved to be the catalyst that sparked off a chain of events that
led to the dissolution of their friendship, and the unforeseen death of a loved one
that cast a long, indelible shadow over Guan’s life subsequently. As Guan looks
back into the past to find the answers to the mystery that surrounded this tragic
death, he also comes to a clearer understanding of his present predication and
learns to cope with his own personal losses and find ways to redeem himself from
his past acts. In the act of negotiating his past and his pain, Guan finds new hopes
in his solitude, and a new life he’s slowly building with hard-won resilience,
fortitude and purpose.

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O Thiam chin

O Thiam Chin’s short stories have appeared in literary anthologies, such as Best New Singaporean Short Stories Volumes 1, 2 and 3, A Rainbow Feast: New Asian Short Stories, ONE – The Anthology: Short Stories from Singapore’s Best Authors, and Malaysian Tales: Retold & Remixed, as well as in Manoa, World Literature Today, The International Literary Quarterly, Asia Literary Review, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Kyoto Journal, The Jakarta Post, The New Straits Times, Asiatic and Esquire (Singapore). Thrice longlisted for the Frank O’ Connor Short Story Award, he is the author of Free-Falling Man (2006), Never Been Better (2009), Under The Sun (2010), The Rest Of Your Life And Everything That Comes With It (2011), Love, Or Something Like Love (2013), shortlisted for the 2014 Singapore Literature Prize, and Signs of Life, which was published in 2019. His debut novel, Now That It’s Over, won the inaugural Epigram Books Fiction Prize (EBFP) in 2015 and also the Best Fiction title at the 2017 Singapore Book Awards, and his second novel, Fox Fire Girl, was shortlisted for the EBFP in 2016. He was an honorary fellow of the Iowa International Writing Program in 2010, and a recipient of the National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award in 2012.