Overboard by Ivy Ngeow - 2020
"Crunchy, Crunchy Special" - A Short Story by Ivy Ngeow from her collection The Power Ballads and Other Stories, 2020 - my first venture into The World of Ivy Ngeow Is here.
Opening Day Presentation by Ivy Ngeow
Ivy Ngeow's Website (from which you can obtain The Power Ballads and Other Stories)
From Asian Books Blog - Elaine Chiew's very interesting interview with Ivy Ngeow
Ivy Ngeow released this book when many of us, including the author, were under lockdown. In her opening day video, linked above, we learn her book can take us far from our confines to posh London,Thailand and Cambodia. Overboard really is a perfect lockdown book.
As the story opens, we are aboard a boat off the coast of Thailand, a powerful storm wrecks the ship. There is only one survivor, a man, badly injured with severe facial injuries that will require several surguries. Thai authorities take him to a hospital in Thailand where they ascertain his identiy. He has no memory of his life at all. He is English and a person of affluence. His Chinese wife, Phoebe, arrives from London, he does not recognize her, they are not terribly close, and right away mysteries begin to emerge. There was a Thai woman on the boat with him. The wife wants to know if she was a prostitute or a mistress. She was much younger than Phoebe’s husband.
From Thailand we travel back to London, with a Cambodian excursion thrown in, where we gradually learn of complicated life of the man. Ngeow is a marvel at creating settings through details. The narrative is structured in a very interesting fashion, through the perceptions of four characters, Phoebe, Dominique and Przemek as well as the injured man.
The chapters are brief, each one draws us further into the mystery.
The victim, his story is told in the second person, slowly pieces together what seems to be his life history.
We meet Dominique in London. Her husband is in Singapore producing a documentary. She is 48 years old and has just lost her job. Very well off, she decides to fly to Nassau to stay at her favourite hotel, $1700.O0 a night for a suite. She gets a call from Singapore. She needs to go there right away to identify his body. They have a child together, in college.
Przemek is an emigrate from Poland living in London and working as a plumber. He plays an important part in the unfolding plot.
There are so many interesting things in Overboard. We learn about London “Sugar Babies” who seek out online older rich men, exchanging companionship and more for rent, fancy cars, and tuition. We see how home improvement projects are often a pain, even for the rich. Foodies will find lots to like in the descriptions of Thai, Cambodian and dare we say it, English food. There are several sexual encounters cinematically described. All the characters are well developed.
I see this as a cubist novel, similar in someways to The Good Soldier, in which we must be active readers putting together events.
I loved Overboard, the characters, the plot turns, the food, the posh apartments and much more. The people are of diverse ages and homelands. I have been to the countries in the plot and Ngeow made me feel I was back there even though I am locked down in Metro Manila.
If you are looking for a good book to help get you through these times, I totally endorse Overboard.
About the Author
Ivy Ngeow was born and raised in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. A graduate of the Middlesex University Writing MA programme, Ivy won the 2005 Middlesex University Literary Prize out of almost 1500 entrants worldwide. She has written non-fiction for Marie Claire, The Star, The New Straits Times, South London Society of Architects’ Newsletter and Wimbledon magazine. Her fiction has appeared in Silverfish New Writing anthologies twice, The New Writer and on the BBC World Service. Most recently, her story was published by Fixi Novo in an anthology.
Ivy won first prize in the Commonwealth Essay Writing Competition 1994, first prize in the Barnes and Noble Career Essay Writing competition 1998 and was shortlisted for the David T K Wong Fellowship 1998 and the Ian St James Award 1999.
Ivy has been a highly-accomplished multi-instrumental musician since childhood and won fifth prize (out of 850 entrants) in the 2006 1-MIC (Music Industry Charts) UK Award for her original song – Celebrity, when she formed her own band, Satsuma (2005-07). Her songs are funky, modern and eclectic, with strong urban grooves and lyrics. Satsuma has played headlining gigs at top London venues such as: The Marquee Club, The Troubadour Club, The Water Rats, The Betsey Trotwood, Plan B and Clockwork.
Follow @ivyngeow on Twitter, on Facebook, on Amazon, on Goodreads, Visit writengeow.com, Buy Overboard