Peculiar Story back in print

Source: Straits Times Life!
29 May 2008

Peculiar story back in print
By Bernard Koh

Johann S Lee AN OLD Singapore novel, Peculiar Chris, is back on the shelves after 15 years.

Written by Johann S. Lee when he was 20, the 1992 book is a coming-of-age story about a young Singaporean gay man.

In March, 2,000 copies of the reprint hit local bookshops. According to publisher Cannon International, which also published the first edition, some 300 copies have been sold.

The book’s original print run of 3,000 copies sold out quickly, prompting an additional print of 2,000 later that year. It also stayed on Times bookstore’s local bestsellers list for most of September 1992 to March 1993.

Cannon’s managing proprietor Tan Wu Cheng says: ‘The public response then was tremendous, but that isn’t surprising for a book that portrays the lifestyle of a different group of people in a very open and accessible manner.’

Mr Tan, 69, says interest in the book was stoked last July when the play Happy Endings was staged. The last instalment of local playwright Alfian Sa’at’s Asian Boys trilogy, the play was inspired by, and is a loose adaptation of, the novel.

The last few copies of the 1992 print were snapped up at the Drama Centre last July where the play was staged.

Lee, now 35 and a London-based chartered accountant, also published his second novel, To Know Where I’m Coming From, earlier this year, which led Mr Tan to decide on reprinting Peculiar Chris.

Lee admits that the themes he wrote about in 1992 may be less relevant today: ‘There are days when I think of Peculiar Chris as a period piece that is raw, flawed and unedited.’

Peculiar Chris coverBut he is also pleasantly surprised by its enduring appeal. His third book about older gay relationships, activism and parenting, which will conclude the trilogy, is scheduled for publication before the end of the year.

He says: ‘Whereas the first novel is about coming out and the second about coming home, the final book will be about taking root.’

Peculiar Chris ($18.50 without GST) is available at Times Bookstores, Books Kinokuniya, MPH and SportsmenAsia in Chinatown Point.


1 Response to “Peculiar Story back in print”

  1. 1 Jason 3 June 2008 at 11:20 pm

    great that ST/this reporter picked this up.

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