Breaking the Tongue by Vyvyane Loh
A Novel

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Expatriates, spies, fifth columnists and nationalists mingle in this novel chronicling the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in World War II. At the centre of the story is one Chinese family: Claude, ashamed of his heritage; his Anglophile father Humphrey, and the redoubtable Grandma Siok.

About Vyvyane Loh

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Vyvyane Loh was born in Malaysia and grew up in Singapore. She holds undergraduate and medical degrees from Boston University, and she graduated from the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. She now lives outside Boston.
Published March 1, 2004 by W. W. Norton & Company. 405 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Breaking the Tongue

Kirkus Reviews

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“The Employment of Secret Agents” by all factions influences a fluidity of identity that’s stunningly embodied in Claude’s boyhood request that Grandma Siok teach him the Chinese language his father has rejected—and his resumption of this ambition in the scorching closing pages (wherein the meani...

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The Guardian

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When British authority, and Claude's faith in it, disintegrate, he sets about learning his mother tongue, and it is in untranslated Chinese that, in the closing pages, he recalls Ling-Li's last, horrifying moments in a Japanese prison cell.

Jun 24 2006 | Read Full Review of Breaking the Tongue: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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The convergence of Jack, Claude and Ling-li as the city implodes during the siege initiates Claude's reconciliation with his ethnic past.

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Entertainment Weekly

Beginning with a dreamlike, hallucinatory torture scene in which Singapore native Claude Lim suffers at the hands of the invading Japanese, Breaking the Tongue is a striking tableau of the horrific WWII battle between the British and Japanese for the island, related with poetic delicacy.

Mar 19 2004 | Read Full Review of Breaking the Tongue: A Novel

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