Fiction Ming Cher Spider Boys

ISBN 13: 9780688128586

Spider Boys

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9780688128586: Spider Boys

Set in the violent streets of 1950s Singapore, a portrait of the lives of street kids follows themes of rebellion, teenage sex, prestige, and fighting spiders, and is presented entirely in street-slang English

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From Publishers Weekly:

Impressively confident in tone, Cher's arresting first novel details the lives of street urchins and petty criminals in the Singapore of the 1950s. The depradations of the WWII Japanese occupation are alluded to only in passing, but the lawlessness and rebelliousness that shadow these characters are its direct result. Spider boys capture and train small wrestling spiders to compete in matches for substantial stakes. Teenaged Kwang is the boys' leader, fiercely and exclusively dedicated to his spiders, much to the chagrin of his girlfriend, Kim, with the "always ready to laugh eyes." Kwang, who adheres to a strict moral code even when engaged in criminal or vengeful activities, is the rival of Chai, a less sterling character, and is preyed upon by Smiling Yeow, a murderous criminal whose plans to use the boys in larger gambling operations signals an end to their comparatively innocent lives. The action builds to thrilling descriptions of the "Spider Olympic Games." What follows is an anticlimax capped by a hasty denouement. But this is a small flaw in a notable debut in which Cher mines the abbreviated, hard-edged local street slang to yield prose of stunning emotional impact. The narrative moves among its characters in quick cuts, but the exposures go remarkably deep nonetheless, revealing this exotic milieu as the universal world of any child growing into adulthood.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist:

This memorable novel written entirely in broken-English street slang tells the tale of the "Spider Boys," street urchins in 1950s Singapore who gain power and prestige by fighting their trained wrestling spiders. The plot follows Kwang, the local spider-wrestling champion, as he wins one match after the other, ultimately making it to the championships and scoring big money. But the real story is that of his friends--unwanted, orphaned street children who make a little money working for a nefarious local thug, spend it betting on the spider-wrestling matches, and live in ramshackle, commune-like dwellings with no adult supervision. Packed with vivid, unforgettable characters and interwoven with flavorful Chinese superstitions and folktales, the novel reveals the harsh, violent world of children existing in a turbulent world. Although difficult to follow at first, Spider Boys is ultimately an astonishing, mesmerizing tale. Kathleen Hughes

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Ming Cher
Published by William Morrow & Co (1995)
ISBN 10: 0688128580 ISBN 13: 9780688128586
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Cher, Ming
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