Book blurb: “Set against a backdrop of stairwells, playgrounds and living rooms, Gone Case sees 12-year-old Yong embarking on a rite of passage fringed with adolescent desires, scrapes with his younger brother, escapades with his friend Liang… Told in a voice that resonates with lucid simplicity and honesty, the story will tug at the very core of anyone who is, or has been, an adolescent growing up in the heartland of a changing HDB landscape.”

First published in 1997.

Another “HDB Heartlander” book (the other than I know is Heartlands by Darren Shiau.

The depiction of HDB living in the late 70s/ early 80s was realistic. The washing machine, on the verge of breaking down, reminded me vividly of the Japanese model washing machine my parents first owned. The one with the outlet hose.

Also the part of how Yong was motivated to study for his O-levels when he realized his peers were far ahead in their revision while he wasn’t. That part resonated with me.

Throughout the story, the focus wasn’t really on Yong but his friend, Liang. Or the troubled sister of Liang’s, choosing to hang out with a gangster. Or Liang getting into trouble because of his obsession with rocks.

I think some parts of the story can also be analysed from the sociological context. For example, Yong’s Christian aunt arguing with her Taoist elder brother, over their mother’s funeral rites.

Overall, I liked this story. Authentic dialogue. Easy to read, and I could identify with alot of what was depicted.

Says in the book that author was born in Malaysia in 1970 and studied in Singapore from Primary 4 onwards. Then to VJC and University of Berkeley, returning to Singapore in 1994. The book came about after he was awarded the 1996 Singapore Literature Prize commendation award then in 1997 he jointly won the first prize for the Golden Point Award for short-story writing.

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