"This was a person who did not fit in with the rest, and would not be accepted as one of them."
Home for Charmaine Leung was Keong Saik Road in the 1970s when it was a red-light district. Her introduction to the world outside of Keong Saik came as a rude shock; Charmaine's only tongue was Cantonese, she knew not a single word of English and the ways of the "English" life that existed beyond her community. The difference in her upbringing was clear: Charmaine—and the world of Keong Saik—was an outsider, a life that did not, and will not fit within social norms.
Join Charmaine Leung, author of 17A Keong Saik Road, for a sharing on being an outsider from both her personal experiences and from the stories of the women of Keong Saik she grew up with.
About the book:
17A Keong Saik Road recounts Charmaine Leung's growing-up years on Keong Saik Road in the 1970s when it was a prominent red-light precinct in Chinatown in Singapore. An interweaving of past and present narratives, 17A Keong Saik Road tells of her mother's journey as a young child put up for sale to becoming the madame of a brothel in Keong Saik. Unfolding her story as the daughter of a brothel operator and witnessing these changes to her family, Charmaine traces the transformation of the Keong Saik area from the 1930s to the present, and through writing, finds reconciliation.
A beautiful dedication to the past, to memory, and to the people who have gone before us, 17A Keong Saik Road tells the rich stories of the Ma Je, the Pei Pa Zai, and the Dai Gu Liong—marginalised, forgotten women of the past, who despite their difficulties, persevered in working towards the hope of a better future.