2020 Longlist

Second Chinese Daughter



2020 Longlist

Feng, the second daughter in a family of seven siblings, grapples with her lowly hierarchical position in her family and society. Set between the 1930s and ’60s, against a backdrop of significant historical events and everyday life in Malaya during that period, this novel follows young Feng’s struggle to gain her mother’s love and an equitable position among her older siblings and in her community. The narrative traces some of the Chinese customs and practices at the time that reflect society’s base view of women, and the lack of acceptance of their identities. Through the eyes of her grandmother and her mother, Feng sees the all-too-slow change in women’s place in society, and endeavours to break away from the constricting world of her female ancestors to find a better place for herself

About the Author

Shirley Fung, born Ong Aing Hon, is a Penang-born Australian Chinese. She was awarded a Colombo Plan Scholarship to study at Monash University, Melbourne, in 1967, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) and a Diploma of Education. She later graduated with a Bachelor of Arts at Deakin University. This is her first novel.

Librarian’s Comments

This is author, Shirley Fung’s first attempt at fiction, an incredibly moving story of the generations of women grappling with the social, family and political events of their time, beautifully rendered by author’s elegant prose. The story flow was smooth and easy to follow. Fung’s simple yet poetic words describe  how one woman’s life shapes the other that comes after her child and the generation after. Blended with a good dose of Chinese customs and practices, this book makes a good read for both life reflection and cultural knowledge. I think this book is one book that women of all ages would be able to identify with and one that Malaysians and all people from other countries should read. National Library of Malaysia, Malaysia


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