When precisely does a book come into being? A practical person might reply, "When the first copy is printed." There are many steps before this: pre-release publicity, (truly!) final edits, submitting the first draft, official announcement, signing the contract and so forth.

Tonight, I sent my wonderful publisher Somekind Press (truly!) final final edits on my essay collection Echoes, to be sent to the printer this week. It still does not feel real. It did not feel real when the book was announced (4 Sep), when I submitted the first draft (9 Sep), when my friend Zoya interviewed me for radio (mid Sep), when my editor and I submitted the manuscript for layout (early Oct), or when I received the first layout (20 Oct).

It won't feel real until I receive the book and hold it in my hands!!!!!


I'll have more to say about the proces of writing Echoes but for the moment, I want to tell you a little bit about the book. It is a collection of three essays about my relationship with my maternal grandmother and mother, fashion, nostalgia, memory, lineages, language, old Chinese pop songs, washing machines and the things we unconsciously inherit.

I love the cover design by Vaughan Mossop. It's so elegant and classic. The circle and mirror motifs are perfect. I wanted to stare at the cover all afternoon when I first received it.

I am especially grateful to Fran Berry for inviting me in July to put together a collection and to Camha Pham (dream editor!!) for her patience and astute yet tender edits. Thank you also to Vaughan, Simon Davis, Nikki Ellis and Luisa Brimble for making Echoes possible.
Below is the official description:

ECHOES is a curious and lyrical collection of personal essays from writer, essayist, critic and poet Shu-Ling Chua which references art and literature, pop culture and nostalgia. It gathers small joys, from a figure-hugging ‘disco dress’ to learning to sing Koo Mei’s ‘Bu Liao Qing’ 不了情 to the swish of washing machines. And asks: what does one unknowingly inherit?

In the title story, Echoes, inspired by old Chinese pop songs and their modern versions, Shu-Ling unexpectedly discovers past and present colliding despite the limits of language and translation and the gaps that remain there. 'Years later, I had presumed consuming the same cultural products would help me piece together her life. There is however a river—linguistic, cultural, historical—I cannot cross.'

In (Im)material Inheritances, Shu-Ling considers glamour and the way we dress for the world, delighting in the feminine, while peering at old family photographs searching and longing for the material links with her mother and grandmother. And finally in To Fish for the Moon, Shu-Ling takes us on a watery journey from her share house washing machine to her ancestor’s laundry business in Malaysia, to red date tea and a bathtub, examining the minute detail of our domestic lives, the habits and rituals, their origins and secrets, sorrows and delights, and shining a light on their place and meaning.


Echoes can be ordered here.

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