Gateway to Elaine Chiew on The Reading Life
Rap of the Tiger Mom - A Short Story by Elaine Chiew from her Debut Collection The Heartsick Diaspora. 2019
"Tiger Mothers so gangsta they bring kickass cupcakes So gangsta their kids can speak five languages So gangsta they read and write and spell at four Play the piano like lil’ beethoven. Ms Beatrice, yo? Tiger Mothers so kool they da first at da skoolhouse door So kool they drive up in Porsches four-by-four Juicy J sweat-bottoms rockin all couture Tiger Mothers come in all stripes Ms Beatrice-teach French, Italian, Brit-ish, even Kazakhstan fosho Ain’t just Chinese, nemmind Amy Chua actin’ all superior If Tiger Mothers rule the world, if I rule the world Our sons will inherit the world, this be the new gospel y’all."
"Rap of the Tiger Mom" is the third story from Elaine Chiew's collection The Heartsick Diaspora so far featured on my blog. The first story in the collection, "The Coffin Maker" was set in Singapore during World War Two. "The Run of the Molars" focused on a family reunion, set in London, of three sisters from Singapore and their flying in for a visit mother.
"Rap of the Tiger Mother" showcases a woman from Singapore now living in London, focusing on her role as a mother. It is tremendously entertaining and insightful. You might subtitle it "Crazy Rich Asians Mothers in Belgravia Competing for Tiger Mother of the Year".
The narrator of the story, Charlotte is divorced and has a four year old son, Ethan. He is enrolled at a very expensive pre-school in Belgravia. She was at one time a very well paid corporate executive but now she focuses on being a mother.
"How ironic, in my investment banking days I used to get up at 5am to fly to America’s heartland – the industrial belt, places like Indianapolis, Columbus and Detroit – to conduct due diligence and meet with a company’s board of directors and I got paid mega-bucks for it."
There is one other Asian mother with a child at the school, Xu Yuan, the music teachers keeps confusing them . Both fathers are Caucasian, Charlotte's English and Xu's Sweedish. They kind of pretend they are friends as they are the only Asian mothers but Xu Yuan not very subtly lords it over her because her son is more advanced. We sit in on the first parent teacher group meeting.
Charlotte finds another mother who used to work in investment banking in New York City and they set up a play date for their sons.
There are lots of very well done conversations between the mothers. I don't want to tell too much about the story as it is just so delightful.
""Elaine Chiew is a writer and a visual arts researcher, and editor of Cooked Up: Food Fiction From Around the World (New Internationalist, 2015).
Twice winner of the Bridport Short Story Competition, she has published numerous stories in anthologies in the UK, US and Singapore.
Originally from Malaysia, Chiew graduated from Stanford Law School and worked as a corporate securities lawyer in New York and Hong Kong before studying for an MA in Asian Art History at Lasalle College of the Arts Singapore, a degree conferred by Goldsmiths, University of London.
Elaine lives in Singapore" . From her publisher
I give my total endorsement to this collection. I plan to post on all fourteen stories.