My review of Philip Holden’s Heaven Has Eyes is now up on Quarterly Literary Review Singapore:
Full marks for freshman effort
Philip Holden hits the bull’s-eye with Heaven Has Eyes
Code-switching, or alternating between languages or language varieties, is never an easy feat.
But Philip Holden makes the practice look effortless with Heaven Has Eyes, his debut collection of short stories that centre on or revolve around Singapore.
Each of the 12 texts demonstrates Holden’s keen understanding of both the Singaporean condition and the linguistic oddities that characterise the nation-state.
Whether it is portraying characters that converse using a mix of English and Singlish, or shifting between English and the various Chinese language varieties in telling each of the stories, Holden is equally at ease.
“Aeroplane”, for one, utilises an intelligent interplay of English, Mandarin and Hokkien, conveying, through the symbol of flying, themes of migration, abandonment and exile.
It is done masterfully.