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Ministry of Moral Panic
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Ministry of Moral Panic

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  1,872 ratings  ·  230 reviews
Meet an over-the-hill Pop Yé-yé singer with a faulty heart, two conservative middle-aged women holding hands in the Galápagos, and the proprietor of a Laundromat with a penchant for Cantonese songs of heartbreak. Rehash national icons: the truth about racial riot fodder-girl Maria Hertogh living out her days as a chambermaid in Lake Tahoe, a mirage of the Merlion as a lady ...more
Paperback, First Edition, 208 pages
Published October 2013 by Epigram Books
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Average rating 4.23  · 
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 ·  1,872 ratings  ·  230 reviews

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Shafika A. Ghani
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Ministry of Moral Panic's stories are evocatively heartland (in a Singaporean sense) and aptly rebellious. I find it delightful to be able to see characters that I encounter day-to-day have their place in a literary world. Amanda Lee has portrayed them honestly and what is the most beautiful thing she has done is to not pale her characters' personalities and quirks to their surroundings and influences. While some Singaporean writers are quick to do this-- revolve their stories around our Singapo ...more
Feb 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Just possibly the most exciting thing to happen to Singaporean prose in a long, long time. Amanda writes like no one else, and her short stories open up that wonderful, dizzying sense of possibility in a city. In its own, peculiar way, Ministry of Moral Panic reimagines this island-nation-city-state for us, and the reader is sometimes powerfully taken by the sense that they are on the threshold of a new way of living, of being in Singapore . This is because Amanda's writing does not, like so muc ...more
Jee Koh
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
There is a deftness of touch, a sureness of intent, a knowingness of accomplishment that makes it hard to believe that Ministry of Moral Panic is Amanda Lee Koe's first book of fiction. She has marked out in virgin territory a realm of her own, a kingdom of weird, non-conforming, stubborn passions in Singapore. And she has done so without resorting to the usual pieties of understanding and tolerance. She has looked directly at the contorted subject and drawn every contortion that she could see. ...more
Karina Is
Mar 04, 2014 rated it liked it
These stories were hits and misses for me. "Flamingo Valley", "Two Ways To Do This" and "Alice, You Must Be the Fulcrum of Your Own Universe" were my favorites. "Fourteen Entries from the Diary of Maria Hertogh" however, as a story I was looking forward to read, was quite disappointing and surprisingly shallow. And then there is "Siren" which perplexed me, and confused me-not really in a good way. Having said that though, I did enjoy reading a something written by a Singaporean, which I never ha ...more
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Edgy and unsettling. The author writes with an assured and captivating voice. I did not expect something like this to come out from Singapore, a place that is supposed to be boringly sterile and famous for its bubblegum ban. Amanda Lee Koe joins my list of awesome female short story writers of Asian descent. Other luminaries include Anjali Sachdeva, Vanessa Hua and Jhumpa Lahiri. [Rating: 4.5*]
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
on the whole, i would recommend this book. there was a wide range of voices/perspectives, touching on an equally wide range of issues, all ‘quintessentially’ singaporean. i can see why it won the singapore literature prize for fiction in 2014. her writing voice stands out as strong & unique.

at the same time, there was a sense that the choice of certain voices served as a conduit to channel a specific idea through. it’s important of course to include a spectrum of narrators, but the weakest stor
Richard Whitehead
Jan 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Determined to be sceptical I ended up really enjoying this collection, and am now excited to prepare to teach it back to back with Malay Sketches. To use an academic term this is a bloody good book, at moments verging on the sublime, and even the satisfyingly wierd, something rarely super well done in comparatively fledgling Singlit. I liked the last half of the book best, my colleague the first bit - seems telling. I was prepared to wince at the Nadra story - but Amanda Lee Koe writes informedl ...more
Oh Hwee
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Once in a while a book excites me so much I couldn't get over the excitement to sit down and continue reading. This is one of them. It is one of the best works in Singapore today and highly recommended. ...more
Lydia Sahrom
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: singapore-local
Stories I liked were "Flamingo Valley" although stereotypical in the racial sense, and "Laundromat" which was pretty nostalgic.

However, despite all the raving reviews I've read, I failed to find affinity with the book after reading it.

This is my take on it:
The stories do stick by the theme of stirring "moral panic" by the way they unsettle the reader and cause them to feel a little messed up after reading them, but that's what it's supposed to do, challenge the moral uprightness of everyday peop
Jan 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Ministry of Moral Panic is not moralistic, but leaves a sobering, --almost haunting-- moral lesson after each short story, without being didactic in nature. A great collection of short stories which carries enough local flavour without hitting it over your head.
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The stories in Ministry of moral panic let me see Singapore from new perspectives that I never even thought to look from. Amanda manages to capture strange lingering feelings deep in the heart of humanity in actual words. I am forever changed.
Anne Fenn
These short stories are shockingly harsh about love. Or maybe about how people connect. They're possibly the most interesting reading I've done this year. Apparently Singaporeans like them a lot, see their country in them, its culture, beliefs, people and ways of being. They're nothing like the public face of a conventional people united as a group. The many ways we humans want to make connections are explored in stories about sexuality, beauty and ugliness, parenthood, old age, childhood, demen ...more
Mar 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Certain stories stand out more than others for me; I particularly liked those which wove history into fiction. Always will be a bit of a history nerd. It's overall quite sad I feel, but it's good to read something that chronicles the issues close to home. Amanda digs deep, uncovering stories that are lived, but rarely spoken about. ...more
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Superb through and through!
Feb 19, 2014 rated it liked it
To be added in a later comment when I can coherently string my thoughts, I feel like I have a lot and nothing to say.
Sep 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Thought-provoking. Captivating. Powerful. Compelling.
Justyna Brol
Oct 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
Surprisingly shallow portrayal of women, with their lives often revolving solely around men. I was expecting to see stories reflecting the diversity of experiences of Singaporeans, but they fell flat. The only stories I engaged with were those written from the perspective of men.
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
I was excited to read this because I enjoyed Delayed Rays of a Star, Amanda Lee Koe’s debut and recently released novel, and because of the many very positive reviews here. But i couldn’t connect with the stories, they left me quite perplexed and feeling like something’s missing, and i disliked almost all the characters. I was not convinced by the passion and love between the characters, especially because i found many of them quite repulsive, i couldn’t really believe the other person wouldn’t ...more
One of the strongest, if not the strongest, collection of short stories I’ve read. Also the strongest work I’ve read from a local author (to be fair, I have also not read a lot of #singlit and am working to rectify this). Amanda Lee Koe is a marvel at characterisation. I usually have a problem with short stories because often they feel like they end prematurely and/or the author isn’t skilled enough to really tell a story of who the characters are so I end up feeling very uninvested. This collec ...more
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The wistful flâneur of city living is subdued by a thick heady fog of moral discomfort – issues of transgender, incest, xenophobia (…) are explored unabashedly. In the atmospheric style of 12 Storeys, the HDB flats and heartlanders’ lives are pried open to subtly reveal the intimate problems and frustrations of navigating a judgemental society. Local myths and the state’s historical narratives are re-imagined. As we follow the characters sprawling and blundering through Amanda Lee Koe’s Minotaur ...more
Stefanie Tang
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The story "Chick" resounded very much with me, especially the lines "Somebody loved you and sat in the palm of your hand, and you couldn't stop squeezing. There are so many ways of making use of a person, far more than there are ways of generosity and loving. The beauty of humans, though, is that they are far less fragile than a three-week-old chick and far more adaptable. The contortions you could tease out of this human being delighted you.

It aptly describes the possible reason behind how peo
Oct 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
I am a pragmatic, boring local who suddenly decided to read fiction (what more local) because something on the social media news feed extolled the virtues of reading fiction. This book poked. Reading pages in bed before sleep may not be a good idea depending on which nerves get boxed-sprung. The most memorable story, read on the train. Oh, I am a bug who can't be the axle of its young galaxy. Four stars because five looks hyperbolic - no, after being hushed I don't gush. Dearie, suddenly thought ...more
Nov 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: singaporeana
The stories impress themselves upon you, and you'll remember each one's unique shape, tone and character. Raw in some areas, jarring in others (an uneducated housewife with a penchant for Tsai Ming Liang?), teetering on cliche even. But Lee Koe shows she has her finger clearly on the pulse of these times: our sex-cynical, social media-soaked, hipster-populated years. She's only 23 @_@ I'm looking forward to more of her writing. ...more
Sabrina Loh
Nov 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
A clever, even nostalgic, collection of stories that (I suspect) would ring the most true for Singaporean readers who appreciate the references to Caldecott Hill and other local cultural elements. The scenarios are fresh and imaginative and while entering them, they constantly left me wanting more once each narrative had ended.
Aug 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general-fiction
I found myself going through the pages easily, eager to see what I would find in the next short story. The theme in the short stories appear to revolve around escaping. And it made me wonder what was it in my own life that I wanted to set down and leave it all behind.
Isabella Ow
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There is indeed a deftness of touch to Koe's writing, and she manages to craft each of her characters so uniquely and well. My favourite stories would have to be 'Every Park on This Island', 'Alice, You Must Be the Fulcrum of Your Own Universe' and 'Laundromat'. The first story, for the unlikely friendship between a Bear and a roaring Twenties Asian girl, the second for the unmistakable attraction between an older lady who refuses to live life snuffed out at the edges and an art student coming i ...more
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved the short story format, it made me connect with all the characters in such a short time! My favourite story has to be "Merlion" it was one of those magical realism stories with a bit of transgender issues thrown in (also great because I got to stay in Orchard Towers and see the scenery there myself lol). A close second was definitely the last story, with its Question-and-Answer format. Somehow, it felt really natural that it was written that way. Number three would have to be "Laundromat ...more
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty captivating series of stories, each from the perspective of very different characters. These are stories that could've taken place anywhere besides Singapore, which I appreciate because I have the universality of that. Not all the stories were necessarily that original, but the author's art of storytelling is quite compelling. One or two of the stories left me hanging and wanting more.

I look forward to her book when it's out!
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was a mixture of heartbraking stories and rather disturbing ones. Not the kind of disturbing that leaves you scarred for life, but the kind of disturbing where all you can think is "how tf can anyone come up with this"? I do like the book and the different short stories and the fact it subtly brings in Singapore as the background setting and Amanda Lee Koe's writing is simply amazing! ...more
Oct 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: singapore
I picked up this book upon the earnest recommendation by Nic Low, who authored “Arms Race”, a most stunning collection of brilliantly thoughtful and witty short stories for an informed reader. And then, this book went along and won a couple of awards: Singapore Literature Prize for Fiction, 2014 and Singapore Book Award for Best Fiction, 2016.

Ministry of Moral Panic, as the name suggests, is a set of stories with starkly sexual themes, for where else is our morality most questioned as when it co
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Born in Singapore and currently based in New York, Amanda Lee Koe is the winner of the 2014 Singapore Literature Prize for English Fiction, and the 2016 Singapore Book Award for Best Fiction Title, for her debut short story collection Ministry of Moral Panic (Epigram Books, 2013, 2016, 2021). The German translation by Zoë Beck was shortlisted for the Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s 2017 International ...more

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