'Tabatha Stirling’s brilliantly achieved first novel, Blood on the Banana Leaf, explores the relationships between maids and their employers in Singapore, exposing deeply unsettling truths about what goes on behind the glossy surface of that society. Told in the superbly nuanced voices of four very different female characters, it’s a great read; tense, vivid and involving, both heart-breaking and heart-warming. Tabatha is a talented, brave and accomplished writer and I do hope her novel gains the recognition and success it deserves.'
Lesley Glaister is the critically acclaimed author of thirteen novels and the winner of the Jerwood Prize for Fiction 2014 for her novel, Little Egypt.
Welcome to the black heart of Singapore’s maid culture, where a woman’s life is cheap in one of the richest countries in the world.
Here are the voices of the unheard, of maid and employer, of village girl and city dweller. Follow Lucilla, Ma’am Leslie, Shammi and Madame Eunice as they strive, each in her own way, to exist in a country in which dark shadows lie beneath its pristine exterior.
The lives of these women are woven together by a narrative which is always candid and often brutal, as it explores the effects of loss, madness, abuse and hope during a woman's life and in society as a whole.
20 Sabre Green
When I came to Singapore, it was with such happiness in my heart. I knew I was doing a good thing, making my parents proud. The girls that go to Singapore and Arabia are spoken of with reverence and as good, dutiful girls.
Sawtoh, the skinny girl from my village, she married a Western man and now they live in Singapore in a palace with beautiful children and swans. I hear her bed is made from gold and she has many servants. I wish her luck but I never like her much. She was cruel to animals and the younger children. Would pull pigtails and tear clothes and kick the dogs around the village when the mood took her. My Ebu says the devil is inside her mouth.
I don’t disagree with Ebu but I think that she is just very selfish. Most of the girls who marry Western men are cunning but until they have a ring on their finger – they play it very sweet like Bubur Candil. Sawtoh must have been kicking many puppies in private to be able to mask her real self. I feel sorry for that Western Man. He went to the market and bought a duck but it turned out to be a fire ant.
It is very dark here at my Madame’s house. I am expected to wash the car before the family wakes up. As I stumble out with sleep still in my eyes and weary bones that sigh I see the other black shapes washing other cars. We might smile and nod but we never call out. The maids that wash cars know better than that. We are divided between the maids that speak and the maids that do not.
I lived in London from 1993 to 2005 and when I left, after falling in love with a Scotsman, I really felt my love affair with our capital city had come to an end. But I should have known that you can become very cross with London but you never stop loving her.
Unbound's inaugural Pitch Party was hosted by Waterstone's Gower Street deep in the heart of Bloomsbury. My first love attended UCL and…
And I’m here to make it up to you. I hope you still remember pledging for my book! After all, it's not Christmas so you have no excuses.
I HAVE EXCITING NEWS!
I’ve been selected to pitch at Unbound’s 'pitch party' at Waterstones, Gower Street on 24th April @ 18:30 and you can book your tickets here >>>>>>
First of all.
Can you believe it? A huge milestone in crowdfunding Blood On The Banana Leaf. And that is down to all of you, my incredible supporters. I can’t thank you enough. I will be thanking you for the rest of my life and this is your book too which feels very comforting.
After talking about Sawtoh in my last post, I wanted to introduce my helper Clarie, who lived…
First off, I want to thank you all for supporting my writing and my long-held ambition to be traditionally published. 52 percent is a huge milestone, it means that the likelihood of OUR book getting published is becoming more and more of a reality.
So I think a resounding group ‘WOO HOO’ is in order.
I wanted to write a little about Sawtoh, the very young Myanmar helper who lived next…
2016 has been an endurance test for most of us. I'm sure it can be put down to some astrological stunt that Mercury & Jupiter have decided would be hilarious to watch but it wasn't so much fun down here. I lost several of my idols, influences and creative superstars. Victoria Wood hit me hard because I've never been a fan of brutal satire like Brass Eye. I adored her hilarious…
It goes without saying how tough crowdfunding is. One of my Unbound chums, Stevyn Colgan, describes it as ‘wading uphill through peanut butter’. While not quite as delicious it certainly describes the process accurately.
It is incredibly hard work and really defies the British way of speaking softly about money or in code, ‘I could really do with some dosh, chum’, one…
It’s been a while and I apologise for the delay in updates but I promise I’ve been incredibly busy off-screen so to speak garnering events and promotional activities to keep the pledges coming in !
After all, you wonderful, WONDERFUL supporters want the book to be published as much as I do. And see your names in the back. On a bookshelf. Literary Immortality.
Most of my writing tends to be on the dark side. Twisty tales and damaged goods leaking from a thin brown bag. See, I can’t stop myself. But sometimes, I do write a bit of comedy, particularly poetry, like My Partner Joan.
My Partner, Joan
I'm not the most attractive bloke
Some might say I'm quite the joke
Education was never my bag
My brain's not big and inclined to sag…
There is a film called Author Anonymous about a writers group, packed full of the usual stereotypes of authors that haven’t achieved major success but keep plugging away while tearing strips off the entire publishing industry. Enter Hannah, a ditzy blonde who writes chick-lit and whose presence is barely tolerated by the writers of other genres.
Eventually, it is Hannah who receives a huge book…
Hello, my darlings!
Very excited to announce an Unbound literary event in Glasgow. Come and join Helen Taylor, Ian Skewis and me as we talk about the Unbound Experience, our books and even read a chapter or two. PLUS, FREE WINE. It will be great fun so do come along if you are in Glasgow or 'copter' up if you are in London.
Hopefully, see you there!
Love, Tabby x
I can only apologise for the radio silence but I've been laid low by tertiary syphilis. No, that was 1934 in Berlin.
I mean a sinus infection. Which are pretty nasty beasts! I was having a conversation with my lovely Mother In Law and she was of the same opinion. So, while I'm still working on a post about writer's groups, The Good, The Bad & the Snuggly, I was able to write a poem for a pledging…
Firstly, TWENTY-EIGHT PERCENT!!! I can't thank you all enough. And, I haven't even started on the serious schmoozing and boozing yet.
I have been asked a few times 'How' I write and 'Why' I wrote about the subject of maid abuse.
The 'Why' is easy. My first experience of the FDW (Foreign Domestic Worker) apartheid started within a few weeks of arriving in Singapore…
Yes, I do actually speak like that, it is not an affectation :)
The last few days have been a whirl of email pleas, twitter posts, phone numbers and blagging.
Promotion, marketing, and selling are a demon triptych for most writers. Most of us are introverts who tend to surround ourselves with ... as little as possible. Writing is a solitary game although those of us with…
I have learnt pretty quickly that you have to be really ingenious when crowdfunding.
First of all, you have to learn to be a salesperson very quickly. But an unpushy, literary one. So not too many bells and whistles.
Secondly, you have to have your 'elevator pitch' (those couple of lines that authors quote you when you ask what the book is about) ready to breeze off…
Hello My Darlings,
Just a quick note before a lovely hefty one at the weekend to say I am very active on Twitter so feel free to follow me and join in the 'mad as a box of Frogs-ness' that is my feed. I am @Volequeen.
I know what you are going to ask? Why Volequeen? And that is a very interesting story that would be better told over a weekend with a case of Santenay '72 but I'll try to address…
Welcome to my Shed. It's actually quite cosy in here and blissfully quiet. This is because I'm locked in the bedroom, wearing earplugs and trying desperately to not hear the squealing and laughter of my beloved family.
I am settling in to regale you all with exclusive bits and pieces about my book, talk about all sorts of shocking and scandalous events that probably never happened but I live…
These people are helping to fund Blood on the Banana Leaf.