Ponti by Sharlene Teo – review

A much-lauded debut novel featuring a faded movie star is a lesson in the limitations of a creative writing course

Ponti, Sharlene Teo’s first novel, won the inaugural Deborah Rogers writers’ award (in honour of the late, great agent) and comes ablaze with praise from Ian McEwan. There’s not a debut writer on the planet who wouldn’t kill for such names on their dust jacket and certainly I came to this book very ready to like it.

Szu and Circe meet as teenagers in Singapore and form an intense, if uneasy, friendship. Szu’s mother, Amisa, now dying, once had a short-lived career as the star of a series of obscure 70s horror movies. Ignored at the time, these films now enjoy a cult following.

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