Breaking the Tongue

Breaking the Tongue

A Novel

Book - 2004 | 1st ed
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"This masterly novel is not only bold and challenging but also beautifully written. The reader will be left breathless by the ending."--Library Journal "A moving accomplishment."--Publishers Weekly, starred review "Vyvyane Loh's richly ambitious narrative weaves the personal and the political into an unforgettable novel."--Claire Messud "In the tradition of Rushdie or Ondaatje, this is one of the most accomplished first novels I've ever seen."--Andrea Barrett  "A revelatory book that is both novel and history, written with splendid and intelligent humanity."--Shirley Hazzard, author of The Great Fire

This brilliant novel chronicles the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in World War II. Central to the story is one Chinese family: Claude, raised to be more British than the British and ashamed of his own herita≥ his father, Humphrey, whose Anglophilia blinds him to possible defeat and his wife's dalliances; and the redoubtable Grandma Siok, whose sage advice falls on deaf ears. Expatriates, spies, fifth columnists, and nationalists--including the elusive young woman Ling-Li--mingle in this exotic culture as the Japanese threat looms. Beset by the horror of war and betrayal and, finally, torture, Claude must embrace his true heritage. In the extraordinary final paragraphs of the novel, the language itself breaks into Chinese. With penetrating observation, Vyvyane Loh unfolds the coming-of-age story of a young man and a nation, a story that deals with myth, race, and class, with the ways language shapes perceptions, and with the intrigue and suffering of war. Reading group guide included.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Co., c2004
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780393057928
Branch Call Number: x
Characteristics: 407, [2] p. : map ; 26 cm

Related Resources


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Bettylg Jun 18, 2012

Loh has written a dense and complicated story around the fall of Singapore, a little told historical turning point in WWII. I loved the way she brings the landscape, the people and the language of Singapore into the narrative. Her characters are all living in a maddening orbit around the British social order and the sudden collapse of this world changes the tragectory of their lives. Very moving and real.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at PPL

To Top