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The Great Reclamation

Author(s): Rachel Heng

Location(s): Singapore

Genre(s): Fiction, Historical

Era(s): 20th Century

On a quiet moonlit night, Ah Boon, young and terrified, takes his first trip out to sea in his father’s fishing boat – a rite of passage for the boys of the kampong village. As the air hums and the wind howls across the waves, a mysterious, impossible island materialises in the darkness; an island, bountiful with fish, that Ah Boon soon learns only he has the ability to find.

But this is only the beginning of the story, and as Ah Boon grows up, alongside Siok Mei, the spirited girl he has fallen in love with, he finds himself caught in the tragic sweep of Singapore’s history. When the Japanese army invades, the resistance rises, and their small nation hurtles towards rebirth, the kampong and the impossible islands that surround it are thrown into jeopardy, and the two friends must decide who they will become – and what they are willing to give up.

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