A novella and a collection of poems primarily based on life in Singapore. This title is currently out of print.
Perera's debut "A leap in the dark" is commendable philosophical insights. The philosopher and thinker in Perera is clearly revealed in this book about ideals, aspirations, laments, norms, the political culture, and other facets of life in a Singaporean.
Perera's work is not about sexual exploits. Far from it, Perera shares with us, through the eyes of the protagonist Alex, profound insights to the simple albeit not necessarily desirable facts of life (e.g. convention, unfulfilled childhood, divorce, promiscuity, bisexualism etc) which Singaporeans are generally not mindful of. Yet, our society houses loose women, practising bisexuals, masseurs giving "special" services, as well as people who follow convention blindly and often at the expense of those who do not. Perera bares them all!
I believe Perera's works is one of the first few attempts in exposing raw facts of life to Singaporeans. Considering the nation's economic and technological achievements, it is high time Singaporeans are aware that they have been moulded into a social convention and that those human traits described in the story, often thought as elements of a western or decadent society, have been a part and parcel of our society all along. It is high time Singaporeans learn that the norm is not all and also how to exercise independent thinking. This, I believe, is Perera's message.
Perhaps "The Awakening" is a more descriptive title for the book.
Here, I would also like to offer some suggestions for Perera:
1. The style of writing is too speech like. There were too many incomplete sentences. (Perhaps styles have changed and I have not caught up?) This make reading rather difficult sometimes.
2. There were too many metaphors so sometimes the point becomes obtuse.
3. Perera sometimes disgress to discuss life in Singapore or his world views. This becomes a distraction. He could have easily weaved this into becoming an inherent part of the story.
4. Too many unfamiliar terms, concepts, and names were used. For example, not many people would have heard of, much less read, "Heart of darkness".
I wish Perera, someone I am glad to have known personally, all the best in his future literary endeavours.
Perera's debut 'A Leap in the Dark' is an undaunted contribution to Singaporean literature.
His use of vivid and figurative language seemingly cloak his philosopical insights into Singaporean society. For example I would describe that his use of sexual imagery propagates the organic relationship between the Singaporean and the issues that Perera puts forth in this novella. Such is rationalised by Walt Whitman, "Sex must be brought out of concealment into the open in order to foster a sane, healthy attitude toward the important phases of life", and I think Perera is deserving of this relation.
Though I found his poems, which were interjected between his short stories, coming a little abrupt as as a reader I'd have to adjust the momentum and mood of my reading, I find A Leap in the Dark an explicit as well as implicit portrayal of Singaporean and other authoritarian-run societies.
as is the case with Singapore's progessive and dynamic on-going policy amendments.
The book read 5 years ago, takes on a different meaning when read in the year 2003.
Critics who monitor Singapore's societal changes (or none of it) and politics closely would unconsciously unleash the parallels and paradoxes of Singapore's "System" and make sense of it all.
Which is the very forward-thinking objective and approach of this book.