The Scent of the Gods tells the enchanting, haunting story of a young girl’s coming of age in Singapore during the tumultuous years of its formation as a nation. Eleven-year-old Su Yen bears witness to the secretive lives of “grown-ups” in her diasporic Chinese family and to the veiled threats in Southeast Asia during the Cold War years. From a child’s limited perspective, the novel depicts the emerging awareness of sexuality in both its beauty and its consequences, especially for women. In the context of postcolonial politics, Fiona Cheong skillfully parallels the uncertainties of adolescence with the growing paranoia of a population kept on alert to communist infiltration. In luminous prose, the novel raises timely questions about safety, protection, and democracy–and what one has to give up to achieve them.
Ideal for students and scholars of Asian American and transnational literature, postcolonial history, women’s studies, and many other interconnected disciplines, this special edition of The Scent of the Gods includes a contextualizing introduction, a chronology of historical events covered in the novel, and explanatory notes.
Fiona Cheong is an associate professor of creative writing at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of the novel Shadow Theatre. Leslie Bow is a professor of English and Asian American studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the author of Partly Colored: Asian Americans and Racial Anomaly in the Segregated South.