Skip to main content
by Suchen Christine Lim



Fistful of Colours is a elegant, multi-layered reflection on Singapore as experienced through one day in the life of Ong Suwen, a young teacher in search of her identity as a woman and an artist. Peering into the rich history of her stepfather’s family, Suwen uncovers and reveals the hopes and struggles of Singapore’s first generation of immigrants and residents – from Chinese collies, Indian doctors and Malay waiters, each is given a unique and vibrant voice. Woven into this narrative are stories of Suwen’s fellow artists that touch upon themes of art, identity and the pursuit of personal and artistic freedom. It is their search for answers that give this lyrical, beautifully considered and well-loved book its restive spirit. Fistful of Colours is a seminal novel in Singapore’s literary canon and was the first book to receive the Singapore Literature Prize in 1992. This brand-new edition from Straits Times Press incorporates the final text revisions from the writer and features a new cover and improved layout for easier reading. This novel has been adopted as a core text by some of the top schools in Singapore. It should be read in Singapore schools because it integrates literature with history and brings Singapore History to a personal level.


  • Singapore Literature Prize


11th Grade, 12th Grade, Adult, Community College, Historical Fiction