Pin must not become like her mother, but nobody will tell her why. She seeks clues in Ma’s cooking when she’s not fighting other battles—being a bursary girl at an elite school and facing racial taunts from the bus uncle. Then her meddlesome grandmother moves in, installing a portrait of a watchful Sikh guru and a new set of house rules. Old secrets begin to surface but can Pin handle learning the truth?
“This novel is sensitively written, and raises important issues subtly: racism and racialisation; religiosity and its relation to identity; patriarchal values; class; and the intersection of Christianity and capitalism in the wonderful speech about 'spiritual bank accounts'. All the characters have depth and complexity and the two layers of the narrative (the experiences of Pin and of her mother Jini) are skilfully blended. There are some beautiful descriptive passages, and I like the way in which metaphors are used sparingly, but to good effect.”
—Philip Holden, editor of Writing Singapore and Epigram Books Fiction Prize 2015 judge
“Pin is an earnest and enchanting child, through whose curious and clear-sighted eyes we see family life and complications and childhood cliques and racism. But this entertaining book also has touching insights into love, hope and wisdom, and characters that will stay with you long after you finish it.”
—Ovidia Yu, author of Aunty Lee’s Chilled Revenge
“This is the most glorious mic drop moment in Singaporean Literature. Sugarbread is such a tender and powerful response to the many celebrated voices in Singapore that represent minority experiences through tokenism or ignore them altogether. Balli Kaur Jaswal has made me feel like my ten-year-old self could be someone’s protagonist, like my skin belongs in the pages of books in my country. She’s turned the mirrors on Singapore and our conversations about identity in a spectacular fashion. Her prose is delicate, precise and aching. Her storytelling lingers with you for days. This novel is triumphant and absolutely essential reading for anyone who cares about living in this city.”
—Pooja Nansi, author of Love is an Empty Barstool