Heaven Has Eyes:

Heaven Has Eyes

By Philip Holden

Published by Epigram Books

Fiction Collections



A teacher and his wife get caught up in the drama of election politics and a Channel 8 soap opera. An invalid house-sits for his sister and has to care for his nephew’s pampered pet pig. A daughter travels overseas to convince her elderly father to move home with her. An academic must navigate an opaque bureaucracy to renew his Re-Entry Permit. A young Lee Kuan Yew finds camaraderie with a future Canadian Prime Minister in England, and relentless tenacity from a British student in Canada desperate for an interview. Heaven Has Eyes dramatises these small moments of transcendence in everyday life, and more.


Reader Reviews

“By turns thoughtful, satirical, even dreamlike, these stories delve in and out of memory and alternative histories, capturing misconnections between characters that even include modern Singapore's founding father.”
—Cyril Wong, award-winning author of Ten Things My Father Never Taught Me

“Quiet yet disquieting, these stories shimmer with the unsettling currents that stir beneath the placid surface of Singaporean life, here and elsewhere. Philip Holden's prose, meditative and thoughtful, has a sharp bite to it.”
—Jeremy Tiang, author of It Never Rains on National Day, shortlisted for the 2016 Singapore Literature Prize

“This collection of stories is refreshingly honest and daring in its treatment of Singapore’s history and quotidian life. The stories disturb; they are painfully truthful. This kind of storytelling is what is missing in Singaporean literature.”
—Lily Rose R. Tope, Professor of English, University of the Philippines

“Stories as complex, narrators as multi-lingual, and stylistics as code-switching as the island nation of Singapore from where they come, Philip Holden’s stunning three-decades-long-in-gestation collection is a wholly local-global achievement. His extraordinary multi-layered, poly-vocal, transnational fictions are absolutely worth the wait.”
—Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Commonwealth Poetry Prize and American Book Awards winner, and author of Among the White Moon Faces

Heaven Has Eyes unfurls a range of complex, uneasy and often difficult-to-define emotions and sensibilities, as well as thoughtfully sculptured scenarios both artfully simple and poetically nuanced. Philip Holden tackles the amnesiac confusion that comes with urban development and rapid change, the sacrifices made for material progress, the liminal suffering of bureaucracy’s insistence on its own schedule, and the anxiety of an increasingly borderless world. These effortlessly universal stories are told skilfully through self-reflexive, post-colonial lenses, stylishly and surgically executed by an insider-outsider storytelling sensibility.”
—Alvin Tan, founder and artistic director of The Necessary Stage

“The complexities of contemporary life in Singapore are revealed in subtle and nuanced ways in Philip Holden's first collection of short stories. Ruminative at times but always insightful, a good read.”
—Suchen Christine Lim, author of The River's Song

“Philip Holden's short stories are delicate, deliberately understated and poignant—but sometimes also pointed, despite a subtle use of irony. The stories range from Singapore to England to western Canada, but the point-of-view is never that of a freewheeling, privileged and rootless cosmopolitanism, but one that offers personal and also political perspectives on the struggles to unroot and to root again the self. The painful details of the quotidian are part and parcel of such struggles. The legacy of colonialism and the Cold War also make its presence felt, as past and present are shown to be linked in a Singaporean society that people like to say is dehistoricised. A few stories enquire: what happens to political idealism? Connections and interconnections are palpable concerns in this at times disquieting short fiction.”
—C.J.W.-L. Wee, author of Culture, Empire, and the Question of Being Modern and Professor of English, Nanyang Technological University

“With a gimlet eye for detail and an instinctive feel for the complex cadences of life, Holden ushers his reader into worlds disconcertingly surreal yet also strangely intimate. His stories—whether set in Singapore, Canada, England or the spaces in between—speak of the (im)possibilities of communication, connection and arrival, hinting at emotional truths always glimmering in the near distance and just out of reach. These are stories which hold you in their thrall because they embody imaginative intelligence leavened with compassion—read them!”
—Angelia Poon, Head of English Language and Literature, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University

“Subtle and profound, this book is a letter to an old lover, carrying in it the intimacy, honesty and tenderness that only those who have truly loved can give.”
—Tan Dan Feng, co-founder of The Select Centre and co-editor of Singapore Shifting Boundaries