If We Dream Too Long (New edition)
by Goh Poh Seng, updated introduction by Koh Tai Ann
Widely regarded as the ﬁrst Singapore novel, If We Dream Too Long explores the dilemmas and challenges faced by its hero, Kwang Meng, as he navigates the difﬁcult transitional period between youthful aspirations and the external demands of society and family. Shy and sensitive, he feels detached from mainstream life and is unable to identify with the values that animate his friends. Kwang Meng takes refuge in dreams of exotic faraway places, and imagines merging himself with the sea, which he loves. Yet amidst this uncertainty, the reader feels that all is not lost, that the young dreamer will eventually find his way. Kwang Meng’s experiences reflect the author’s fascination with the question of self amidst the dreariness and aimlessness of an increasingly urbanised and materialistic Asian society. The book also provides a fascinating portrait of Singapore as it was in the 1960s, a landscape and society that have undergone many changes but remain faintly visible in modern Singapore.
Since its first publication in 1972, If We Dream Too Long has moved and delighted generations of readers. This much-loved novel has been used as a text in university literature courses in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, and has been translated into Tagalog and Russian.
“Goh Poh Seng’s If We Dream Too Long remains a landmark in Singapore Literature. It is also a wonderful read. For those from his generation, it will be wonderful to have him with us again, while for an entire younger generation who may not have read his work, Dr. Goh’s writing is a testament to Singapore’s literary heritage.”
– Phan Ming Yen, The Arts House
A novelist, poet, and playwright, Goh Poh Seng (1936–2010) was born in Kuala Lumpur. He received his medical degree from Dublin and practised medicine in Singapore before migrating to Canada in 1986. If We Dream Too Long was his first novel, winning the National Development Council of Singapore Award for Fiction in 1976. He published three other novels, five books of poetry, and a fictionalized memoir also published by NUS Press, Tall Tales and Misadventures of a Young Westernized Oriental Gentleman.
Publication year: 2020
208 pp / 215 x 139 mm / New edition