BOOK

Jointly won the 2021 Small Press Network Book of the Year Award (announcement here)

Echoes is a lyrical collection of personal essays 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?

Inspired by old Chinese pop songs and their modern versions, the title essay explores 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', I consider glamour and the way we dress, while searching for links with my mother and grandmother. Finally, in 'To Fish for the Moon', I take readers on a journey from share house washing machines to my great-grandparents' laundry business in Kuala Lumpur, to red date tea and bathtubs, examining our domestic habits and rituals.

96 page paperback
178mm x 108mm

Echoes is available through at Wyndham LibrariesYarra Libraries, and selected shops:

ACT

Small Press Network Book of the Year Award judges' comments: Echoes is a true expression of what it means to (re)connect with one's culture, blending memoir, cultural commentary and translation with brief vignettes that leave a lasting impact. There is a rhythm to the writing that is poetic in nature, creating an elegant, resonant and tender read. Echoes is a truly unique and experimental book that showcases the power of small publishing.

Reviews
Dženana Vucic, Mascara Literary Review
I raced through Echoes the first time I read it. Raced through it the second time, too. At under 85 pages it’s a short book—a chapbook, almost—and easily inhaled over an idle afternoon. If you can resist, the three essays can be spread over a few idle afternoons. But its hard to resist—Shu-Ling Chuas writing is compelling, the kind of simple but lyrical language that propels you through the text at pace. Its not exactly sparse prose, but unadorned, elegant like a figure-hugging structured dress from Cue.

In the final essay ‘To Fish for the Moon’ Chua explores the role of water in daily rituals and Chinese medicine, and dives into the history of her great-grandparents and their laundry business in Malaysia. Here, water not only signifies life, but also the beginnings of the life Chua has carved out for herself. Despite its brevitysitting at just under 100 pagesEchoes is a powerful collection of essays that pushes the boundaries of identity literature.

Chua focuses on how women of migrant/diaspora backgrounds, and particularly strong women in her family, live with the permanency of uncertainty; the liminal not-quite-this-not-quite-that-feeling. ... Interestingly, there is often no grand narratve arc to Chua’s essays, but an invitation to ‘feel your way through’ personal landscapes of beauty and loss, revealing the preciousness of memory and relationships.

Goodreads reviews for Echoes include:
  • The moment I began this book I knew I'd want to savour it... but I couldn't stop myself from devouring it in a day!!! These three beautiful lyric essays are like "the sound... of a mother's womb", they're soft, playful and improvisational; generous and entangled—I so badly want to stay in the cradle of this book! I miss it already.
  • This thoughtful collection of essays reminded me of why I love reading what Shu-Ling Chua writes. The prose, the connections, and the sense of drifting on a body of water.
  • Tender, pensive, and illuminating. This was pure comfort. Felt like echoes of my own experiences with identity, family and culture. I wanted to hang onto every word because I knew it was a short collection. Just like the vignettes, the reading experience has a lasting impact despite its brevity.
  • This is a truly special book. It defies categorisation, but blends poetry, memoir, cultural commentary and translation with a lush nostalgia and a contemporary sensibility. Shu-Ling Chua listens to the songs her grandmother loved - the old Shanghai torch songs of the 1940s - and finds their echoes in surprising places, including her own heart.

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