Shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize 2020 (English, Fiction)
When a photographer captures Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong and Leni Riefenstahl in one frame at a party in Berlin in 1928, no one realises the extent to which their lives will reflect the tumultuous decades that follow. Marlene crosses the Atlantic to find fame in Hollywood, the town that eats out of the palm of her hand till her wrinkles begin to show. After establishing her position as a filmmaker, Leni watches her fame turn to notoriety following the defeat of Nazi Germany. Nine and a half times out of ten films, the side characters played by Anna May must die so the white male lead can be returned to his white paramour on the screen. In the murky world these women navigate, their choices will be held up to the test of time. And the real question is, how much has anything changed?
This fierce and exquisite debut about womanhood, ambition, and art, played out against the shifting political tides of the twentieth century, introduces a mesmerising new literary talent for our times.
"In this swirling, brilliant debut, both the famous and the unknown struggle to navigate the tide of history. Cultures collide, horizons appear, worlds collapse. Filled with hope and desperation, Amanda Lee Koe's novel is a timely and timeless enquiry into what it means to be a woman, and a human being, in a universe that often seems not to care."
"Delayed Rays of a Star is a big globe-trotting, time-travelling wonder of a novel that made me laugh and in a hundred other ways appreciate the playful brilliance of Amanda Lee Koe. This is writing to be devoured and shared, and a writer's arrival to be celebrated."
"After reading this text, this tale, this text which is the telling of a tale, I suspect that Anna May Wong & Marlene Dietrich (but not Leni Riefenstahl, who would always have wanted to be there alone) might well conclude that Amanda Lee Koe is the light-to-come that would write herself into that photo."
—Jeremy Fernando, reader and writer, in "My Book of the Year 2019", Singapore Unbound
"My Singaporean book of the year is Amanda Lee Koe's debut novel Delayed Rays of a Star simply for how it redefines what we think of as "Singapore Literature." Lee Koe's astute sensibilities for human foibles and transcendence have been honed ever sharper since her first book of short fiction Ministry of Moral Panic and it was a thrill to read this sprawling, queering of histories from Hollywood to Nazi Germany, Paris to Beijing."
—Joanne Leow, literary scholar and writer, in "My Book of the Year 2019", Singapore Unbound
"Based on a photograph found in a secondhand bookstore, it’s a cosmopolitan tale of 3 women’s heartbreaking struggles against racism, male power, and prejudice in Nazi Germany and the US in the 1930’s. The author’s research into the lives of two German and a Chinese film stars has created a brilliant novel."
—Suchen Christine Lim, novelist, in "My Book of the Year 2019", Singapore Unbound
Cover Type: Softcover
Page Count: 400
Year Published: 2019