Sweet Offerings is not just a fictional story of the events that ripped one family apart, but a taste of Malaysia's historical, political and cultural changes during its transition from colonial rule to independence and beyond.
Set between the late 1930s and 1960s, Sweet Offerings is the tale of Mei Yin, a young Chinese girl from an impoverished rural family. Her destiny is shaped when she is sent to Kuala Lumpur to become the ward and companion of the tyrannical and bitter Su Hei who is looking for a suitable wife for her son Ming Kong … and ultimately a grandson and heir to the family dynasty.
Sweet Offerings is not just a fictional story of the events that ripped one family apart, but a taste of Malaysia’s historical, political and cultural changes during its transition from colonial rule to independence and beyond.
(The title of the novel takes its cue from a dish called lin qi kung – a light syrup with lotus seed and the fruit longan that is eaten to sweeten, sooth and balance the yin and the yang of the body. Traditionally, tea infused and sweetened with these same ingredients is offered to make palatable any suffering or bitterness.)
"Chan Ling Yap's novel about a Chinese family spanning three generations evoke all the imagery of
Malaysian life from the period before the second world war to the Emergency, Merdeka, and the present day.
It was a time when wealthy Chinese men took on other wives, sometimes ill-treating them, but often
a strong bond with a strict hierarchy grew between the wives. The story of Mei Yin is told with much
sympathy and insight ... Her lessons in life include accepting a caring co-wife, dealing with
an unfaithful husband, aborting an unwelcome pregnancy, being the subject of malicious rumours
and being supplanted by a conniving gold-digger, but finally finding independence and self-esteem."
Born in Kuala Lumpur, Chan Ling Yap was educated in Malaysia and the UK. She has a PhD in economics and was Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Malaya and then Senior Economist and Secretary of the Intergovernmental Group on Rice in the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations in Rome. She now lives in the UK.
Her novels New Beginnings and Where the Sunrise is Red, won the Readers Popular Readers' Choice Award (Malaysia) in 2014 and 2019 respectively, while both Sweet Offerings and Bitter-Sweet Harvest were shortlisted for the award.
The four novels, Sweet Offerings, Bitter-Sweet Harvest, New Beginnings and A Flash of Water, form a quartet, which traces the lives of one family against the turbulent political, economic and social changes in China and Malaya. Each, however, stands on its own.