Little Ironies: Stories of Singapore

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Little Ironies: Stories of Singapore is a collection of seventeen short stories by Singapore author Catherine Lim. It was first published in 1978, in Singapore, by Heinemann[1] under the Writing in Asia Series and earned for the writer much accolade. It is Lim's first published book of fiction. Little Ironies was later used as a set text for GCE 'N' Levels.[2] It is also the first collection of short stories to be written by a single author in Singapore.[citation needed]

In 2015, Little Ironies: Stories of Singapore was selected by The Business Times as one of the Top 10 English Singapore books from 1965–2015, alongside titles by Arthur Yap and Daren Shiau.[3] In the same year, The Straits Times' Akshita Nanda selected Little Ironies as one of 10 classic Singapore books. "Catherine Lim's early short, sharp fiction describes the results of such social engineering", she wrote, "a Singapore growing more cosmopolitan and Singaporeans losing touch with their roots. Little Ironies spotlights ordinary people at their best and worst, such as 'The Taximan's Story', in which a cab driver is happy to make money off sex workers while looking down on them."[4]

The stories[edit]

Written with wit and deliberate irony, Little Ironies may best be described as a collection of vignettes concerning modern Singapore life, mostly involving the Singaporean Chinese community. In each of the stories there is an ironic twist which brings to the fore the stark and realistic modern life of the 1970s, informed by superstition, ignorance, snobbery and materialism.

The stories' order[edit]

  • The Father
  • Paper
  • The Teacher
  • Miss Pereira
  • Lottery
  • Male Child
  • Properly Married
  • The Journey
  • Love
  • Eggs
  • The Marriage
  • Adeline Ng Ai Choo
  • The Chosen One
  • Monster
  • The Taximan's Story
  • The Jade Pendant
  • The Ugly One

Works about Little Ironies[edit]

  • Tan, Kheng Choo; Thomson, Ruth J; Lim, Catherine (1986). Student's Guide to Little Ironies. Singapore: G Brash. [5]


  1. ^ "Catalogue record for "Little Ironies"". Worldcat. Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  2. ^ Tan, Beng. "Singapore writers make the grade". NewspaperSG, from The Straits Times, 13 March 1986, p. 13. Singapore Press Holdings. Retrieved 13 May 2016. 
  3. ^ Yusof, Helmi. "Tomes that show us how we live". The Business Times. Singapore Press Holdings. Retrieved 5 January 2015. 
  4. ^ Nanda, Akshita. "10 Singapore stories to ponder". The Straits Times. Singapore Press Holdings. Retrieved 28 January 2015. 
  5. ^ "Catalogue record for Student's Guide". Worldcat. Retrieved 2 April 2013.