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The Billion Shop

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The Billion Shop was a shop near my office that sold paper money and other artefacts for ethnic Chinese people to burn as offerings to their dead. It no longer exists: Jixiang Traditional Foot Massage now stands in its place. I'm not one to lament change, and trust in Adam Smith's invisible hand that the good people of Toa Payoh would rather please souls. But I'm also sent The Billion Shop was a shop near my office that sold paper money and other artefacts for ethnic Chinese people to burn as offerings to their dead. It no longer exists: Jixiang Traditional Foot Massage now stands in its place. I'm not one to lament change, and trust in Adam Smith's invisible hand that the good people of Toa Payoh would rather please souls. But I'm also sentimental: about places gone, loves lost, ideals overturned or, more often, outgrown. Consider these stories, then, as my own paper offerings to my dead.


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The Billion Shop was a shop near my office that sold paper money and other artefacts for ethnic Chinese people to burn as offerings to their dead. It no longer exists: Jixiang Traditional Foot Massage now stands in its place. I'm not one to lament change, and trust in Adam Smith's invisible hand that the good people of Toa Payoh would rather please souls. But I'm also sent The Billion Shop was a shop near my office that sold paper money and other artefacts for ethnic Chinese people to burn as offerings to their dead. It no longer exists: Jixiang Traditional Foot Massage now stands in its place. I'm not one to lament change, and trust in Adam Smith's invisible hand that the good people of Toa Payoh would rather please souls. But I'm also sentimental: about places gone, loves lost, ideals overturned or, more often, outgrown. Consider these stories, then, as my own paper offerings to my dead.

30 review for The Billion Shop

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jason Lundberg

    You know the feeling of discovering a great new band, one that's still small enough to be playing local clubs and seedy bars, but you can just tell from the quality of their music and the awesomeness of their sound that they're going to make it big someday, and that you were a superfan before they broke through? Reading this chapbook is like the literary equivalent of that experience. I've been a fan of Stephanie Ye's writing for a few years now, mostly catching her short fiction in Quarterly Lit You know the feeling of discovering a great new band, one that's still small enough to be playing local clubs and seedy bars, but you can just tell from the quality of their music and the awesomeness of their sound that they're going to make it big someday, and that you were a superfan before they broke through? Reading this chapbook is like the literary equivalent of that experience. I've been a fan of Stephanie Ye's writing for a few years now, mostly catching her short fiction in Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, but it wasn't until her work was collected that the cumulative impact of her facility with words was made blindingly evident. The Billion Shop, constructed as a collection of four linked short stories, showcases Ye's preoccupation with individual identity and the winding paths of lifelong friendships, often within the backdrop of transnational wanderlust. Taken individually, these stories exude a quiet power, but as a collection, one which I inhaled in the gulp of a single sitting, they cohere into something greater, and form a profound statement about belief, acceptance, and those small revelatory moments that reveal the numinous in earthly existence.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Naaytaashreads

    Disclaimer: I receive a free copy of this book from Books Actually. This feeling of cosmic and cruel injustice, that of all the random places in all the world to be from, you had to be from here. This place so tiny. Insignificant. Unsophisticated. Hot. Except when it rains." I feel like this book brings back a sense of memory and familiarity. Being Singapore, the things said, atmosphere, culture is so relatable and remind me of my childhood at times. I understand it was short stories but I wish ther Disclaimer: I receive a free copy of this book from Books Actually. This feeling of cosmic and cruel injustice, that of all the random places in all the world to be from, you had to be from here. This place so tiny. Insignificant. Unsophisticated. Hot. Except when it rains." I feel like this book brings back a sense of memory and familiarity. Being Singapore, the things said, atmosphere, culture is so relatable and remind me of my childhood at times. I understand it was short stories but I wish there was more stories of it for me to feel way more attached to the stories till the end. I love the nostalgic feeling and the story feels like it cuts my mood when it ended too fast. The ending narrative gave me goosebumps though.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chawanat

    รวมเรื่องสั้น 4 เรื่องโดยนักเขียนหญิงชาวสิงคโปร์ ทั้งหมดเล่าเรื่องความสัมพันธ์โดยมีตัวละครหนุ่มสาวที่เคยเป็นเพื่อนร่วมเรียนช่วงไฮสคูลเป็นแกนกลาง ตอนอ่านจบใหม่ๆ ยังไม่รู้สึกว่ามีอะไรกระทบใจมากนัก แต่พอทิ้งระยะให้ความรู้สึกได้ตกตะกอนก็พบว่าผู้เขียนถ่ายทอดความสัมพันธ์ของ "คนกับคน" และ "คนกับเมือง" ได้งดงามมาก โดยเฉพาะฉากหลังที่สิงคโปร์—เมืองที่เป็นประเทศและประเทศที่เป็นเมือง เราสัมผัสได้ว่าความพยายามในการสร้างชาติและความเจริญทางเศรษฐกิจอย่างรวดเร็วของสิงคโปร์นั้น ในทางหนึ่งได้บ่อนเซาะ "ความรู้สึกผู รวมเรื่องสั้น 4 เรื่องโดยนักเขียนหญิงชาวสิงคโปร์ ทั้งหมดเล่าเรื่องความสัมพันธ์โดยมีตัวละครหนุ่มสาวที่เคยเป็นเพื่อนร่วมเรียนช่วงไฮสคูลเป็นแกนกลาง ตอนอ่านจบใหม่ๆ ยังไม่รู้สึกว่ามีอะไรกระทบใจมากนัก แต่พอทิ้งระยะให้ความรู้สึกได้ตกตะกอนก็พบว่าผู้เขียนถ่ายทอดความสัมพันธ์ของ "คนกับคน" และ "คนกับเมือง" ได้งดงามมาก โดยเฉพาะฉากหลังที่สิงคโปร์—เมืองที่เป็นประเทศและประเทศที่เป็นเมือง เราสัมผัสได้ว่าความพยายามในการสร้างชาติและความเจริญทางเศรษฐกิจอย่างรวดเร็วของสิงคโปร์นั้น ในทางหนึ่งได้บ่อนเซาะ "ความรู้สึกผูกพัน" ของคนหนุ่มสาวที่มีต่อประเทศของตนให้น้อยลงอย่างไม่น่าเชื่อ แม้จะมีมหาวิทยาลัย โรงละคร หรือองค์กรธุรกิจชั้นนำไม่แพ้ยุโรปหรืออเมริกา แต่คนหนุ่มสาวเหล่านั้นก็รู้สึกว่ามันเป็นเพียงผลผลิตของการนำเข้าที่พวกเขาเป็นเพียง "ผู้เช่าอาศัยและใช้งาน" เท่านั้น เมื่อไม่อาจเป็นเจ้าของหรือครอบครองอะไรได้ เราจึงเห็นตัวละครแต่ละตัวพยายามเสาะหาทางของตัวเองในการออกไปนอกประเทศ (ไม่ว่าจะชั่วคราวหรือถาวร) ราวกับสิ่งนั้นเป็นทุกสิ่งทุกอย่างในชีวิต อย่างไรก็ตาม ใช่ว่าการดั้นด้นไปข้างหน้าจะมีสิ่งดีกว่ารออยู่เสมอไป เพราะความรู้สึกไม่เป็นส่วนหนึ่งของสังคมที่ตัวเองอยู่นั้นเป็นหนึ่งในภาวะปกติของโลกสมัยใหม่ไปแล้ว เราต่างเป็นคนไกลบ้านที่เดินทางไปเรื่อยๆ โดยไม่รู้ว่า "บ้าน" ของตัวเองอยู่ที่ไหน แต่ไม่ว่าใครก็ล้วนต้องการที่ที่จะกลับไป อย่างน้อยก็สักแห่งหนึ่ง

  4. 5 out of 5

    Faterider

    Such a neat concept, executed with élan. A charming collection of four stories that made me raise my eyebrows as I realised how the characters in previous stories were linked to those in later ones. It was interesting to read stories from both the perspective of the character himself/herself and the perspective of someone close to this character. Also noteworthy was how I could get a sense of how a character named Emma grew from a precocious eleven-year-old to a hesitant mum-to-be. Through time Such a neat concept, executed with élan. A charming collection of four stories that made me raise my eyebrows as I realised how the characters in previous stories were linked to those in later ones. It was interesting to read stories from both the perspective of the character himself/herself and the perspective of someone close to this character. Also noteworthy was how I could get a sense of how a character named Emma grew from a precocious eleven-year-old to a hesitant mum-to-be. Through time and space and distance, Stepahnie Ye's characters evolve - and what a treat it is to read of their growth. I also belong to that group of Singaporeans who totally relate to what she's writing in regards to just wanting to "get the hell out of the place you were born" (pg 35). Been there, done that. I award this book 3 stars, because if I may be honest, I find the characters and plots quite forgettable. I don't quite resonate with them; maybe it's because I have yet to explore the United States. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this quaint and intelligent book :)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    A great, but too slim, collection of stories. Displacement, physical and spiritual, is a theme that runs through all three of the stories here, and Ye's skill with language is remarkable. Definitely a writer to watch out for. A great, but too slim, collection of stories. Displacement, physical and spiritual, is a theme that runs through all three of the stories here, and Ye's skill with language is remarkable. Definitely a writer to watch out for.

  6. 4 out of 5

    K Flewelling

    This book is a perfect gem of beautiful ordinariness, where the descriptions so effortlessly describe a world all at once foreign and familiar. After visiting Singapore to attend a conference early this year, I became fascinated by the short and curious history of this tiny city-state. The short lines on the back of the book described the changes the author -- a 30-year-old (at the time of publishing) Singaporean -- had experienced in her life, and these stories a paper offering to the places an This book is a perfect gem of beautiful ordinariness, where the descriptions so effortlessly describe a world all at once foreign and familiar. After visiting Singapore to attend a conference early this year, I became fascinated by the short and curious history of this tiny city-state. The short lines on the back of the book described the changes the author -- a 30-year-old (at the time of publishing) Singaporean -- had experienced in her life, and these stories a paper offering to the places and people that once were. The book is composed of four interrelated short stories, each of them independently standing alone, but put together made me feel nostalgic, lonely, and expansive simultaneously. I loved it entirely, and the final sentences in the last story left me with goosebumps.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Esther Lai

    The intriguing description of the book made me purchase it, and I was pleasantly surprised as i began reading the first story. Even more so, when I realised all four stories were connected. Was delightful to travel from a character's story to the next, unpacking their friendships as well as how their outlook on life changed as they grew older. Personal favourite was The Billion Shop. The intriguing description of the book made me purchase it, and I was pleasantly surprised as i began reading the first story. Even more so, when I realised all four stories were connected. Was delightful to travel from a character's story to the next, unpacking their friendships as well as how their outlook on life changed as they grew older. Personal favourite was The Billion Shop.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Judith Huang

    Deftly crafted, these four interlinked stories are a little window into middle class Singaporean JC and post JC life, its outward facing character and the tenuous connections between people when they leave school. Quite beautiful.

  9. 4 out of 5

    mellamy

    woulda given it five stars but i just wish it was longer!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Akriti

    felt like a gentle hug. slightly tinged with sadness but warm still.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Apollos

    The Billion Shop is a very short book (chapbook) consisting of four interconnected short stories. On the whole, the book does not seem to have a striking storyline, and the stories, though interconnected, don’t have any clear overarching theme. Yet, it is this lack of specificity that allows room for readers to think and ponder upon the meanings of the narrative. Like the previous book I read, From the Belly of the Cat, which was edited by the same author Stephanie Ye, I am glad the stories here The Billion Shop is a very short book (chapbook) consisting of four interconnected short stories. On the whole, the book does not seem to have a striking storyline, and the stories, though interconnected, don’t have any clear overarching theme. Yet, it is this lack of specificity that allows room for readers to think and ponder upon the meanings of the narrative. Like the previous book I read, From the Belly of the Cat, which was edited by the same author Stephanie Ye, I am glad the stories here also display certain facets of the Singaporean society. The experience of reading local literature (aka SingLit) deepens the Singaporean identity within me and makes me appreciate Singapore and her idiosyncrasies more. Even if the book, in my opinion, is too short to leave any impact, it is still a worthy offering. 3.5/5

  12. 5 out of 5

    Aquila Michiryu

    The Billion Shop, written by Stephanie Ye, consists of four interconnected short stories that centres around the themes of lost, love and nostalgia. The stories are tender and sentimental (reminds me of some JapLit books), making it a soothing and relaxing read. My only lament is that the book is too short 😅, wished it was longer! A short and highly-readable #SingLit book that I enjoyed! My rating: 4/5

  13. 4 out of 5

    Maya Saputra

    There's so much feeling in less than 100 pages. I love it when I found out that the stories are actually interlinked, and I only realized it when I came across familiar names in the next stories. The last part brought me to fully round up a story of childhood friends, and how far the relationships have stretch after they're no longer bound by the force of school universe. Bringing (or ordering, in a case) one chapbook home made me feel like a kid carrying her unopened gift box home. I knew that There's so much feeling in less than 100 pages. I love it when I found out that the stories are actually interlinked, and I only realized it when I came across familiar names in the next stories. The last part brought me to fully round up a story of childhood friends, and how far the relationships have stretch after they're no longer bound by the force of school universe. Bringing (or ordering, in a case) one chapbook home made me feel like a kid carrying her unopened gift box home. I knew that it would be good, but it exceeds my expectation for its size (and price!). 'Never judge a book by its cover' - it has never been truer in instances like this :)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hui Ping

    It was amazing how well they linked all the 4 short stories together, concluding with one of the most important elements in life- friendship. The local setting would definitely set in nostalgia for readers like us as well, "billion shops" found among shophouses. It is a pity that our small country's rapid development have been eroding many of these areas, and these stories serve well to hold memories of this place which would otherwise have been forgotten. It was amazing how well they linked all the 4 short stories together, concluding with one of the most important elements in life- friendship. The local setting would definitely set in nostalgia for readers like us as well, "billion shops" found among shophouses. It is a pity that our small country's rapid development have been eroding many of these areas, and these stories serve well to hold memories of this place which would otherwise have been forgotten.

  15. 5 out of 5

    szymborskalyte

    Ye reminds me of a Singaporean Alice Munro somehow. The stories grow in strength: The Billion Store and Astoria are especially wonderful (even if they're not as sublime as Seascrapers, that really is a standout short). I'm not sure how much I cared for the continuing retinue of characters though -- that felt like writerly scaffolding that could have been done without with. It's a very lovely anthology though, and I can't wait to read more from Ye. Ye reminds me of a Singaporean Alice Munro somehow. The stories grow in strength: The Billion Store and Astoria are especially wonderful (even if they're not as sublime as Seascrapers, that really is a standout short). I'm not sure how much I cared for the continuing retinue of characters though -- that felt like writerly scaffolding that could have been done without with. It's a very lovely anthology though, and I can't wait to read more from Ye.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ana A

    I bought this book during my vacation in Singapore because I wanted to read something local. What I got, though, was a glimpse of how internationally involved Singapore is. The stories span countries and cultures. I think my favorite of the four short stories is "The Billion Shop" but I like how all of the four were connected to each other. I bought this book during my vacation in Singapore because I wanted to read something local. What I got, though, was a glimpse of how internationally involved Singapore is. The stories span countries and cultures. I think my favorite of the four short stories is "The Billion Shop" but I like how all of the four were connected to each other.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ray Ong

    of moments missed, due to the choices we made. life is beautiful in its mysterious ways, and Ye brilliantly illustrates this through her wonderful interlinked stories. the best stories give you insight on the human condition, and this doesn't fail on that aspect. of moments missed, due to the choices we made. life is beautiful in its mysterious ways, and Ye brilliantly illustrates this through her wonderful interlinked stories. the best stories give you insight on the human condition, and this doesn't fail on that aspect.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Charlene Lee

    Loved the way Stephanie, through reducing the most familiar local things in writing, made them into something much more than the ordinary things we have grown to neglect around us. I loved this book so much that I hate how it ended too soon.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mayee

    Five stars for Steph -- but seriously, these stories take me back to the textures of Singaporean JC (junior college) life in the '90s. Five stars for Steph -- but seriously, these stories take me back to the textures of Singaporean JC (junior college) life in the '90s.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Qianyu

    Beautiful writing. Really enjoyed this!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina Loh

    Lovely book with sweet prose that tells neat little stories about people who desire for something more. Enjoyed it very much.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Really liked Cardiff and Astoria and the sense of the passing of time.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Yu-Mei Balasingamchow

    This collection includes "City in C Minor", one of my favourite short stories of all time. This collection includes "City in C Minor", one of my favourite short stories of all time.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sherilyn

  25. 4 out of 5

    Doubly Roundy

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rae

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sabrina

  28. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Rosa

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andric

  30. 5 out of 5

    Estelle Lee

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