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Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781035406340

Price: £10.99

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‘An extraordinary achievement . . . Every page pulses with mud and magic’
Miranda Cowley Heller, author of The Paper Palace

‘A monumental epic . . . I was spellbound’
Nathan Harris, author of The Sweetness of Water

‘Ah Boon’s story will stay with me for a long time’
Lara Prescott, author of The Secrets We Kept

‘Alive to the beauty and mystery of the natural world as well as the human heart’
Jessamine Chan, author of The School for Good Mothers

They would look back and ask themselves, what was the moment that changed everything? Could she blame him? Could he blame her?

Ah Boon is born into a fishing village amid the heat and beauty of twentieth-century coastal Singapore, in the waning years of British rule. As he grows up, alongside Siok Mei, the spirited girl he has fallen in love with, he finds himself caught in the tragic sweep of Singapore’s history. When the Japanese army invades, the resistance rises, and their small nation hurtles towards rebirth, the two friends must decide who they want to become – and what they are willing to give up.

A powerful coming-of-age of both a young boy and a country, The Great Reclamation asks what might happen when the love between two children complicates the fate of an entire community and country, literally shifting the land beneath people’s feet.


The Great Reclamation is an extraordinary achievement - an epic love story set in a world at war within and without itself. Every page pulses with mud and magic. I loved it
Miranda Cowley Heller, author of The Paper Palace
A gorgeous novel about love, fate, free-will, and how, in wartime, one person's choices can have long-lasting consequences. The Great Reclamation is as sweeping as it is specific. Ah Boon's story will stay with me for a long time
Lara Prescott, author of The Secrets We Kept
Through the story of one remarkable boy, Rachel Heng's breathtaking epic of 20th century Singapore shows us the human and environmental costs of a nation's quest for freedom, prosperity, and order. Told with great tenderness and moral clarity, and alive to the beauty and mystery of the natural world as well as the human heart, The Great Reclamation is timeless, timely, and unforgettable
Jessamine Chan, author of The School for Good Mothers
A monumental epic. A story of an entire nation reckoning with its past combined with a heart-wrenching love story. This one shouldn't be missed. I was spellbound
Nathan Harris, author of The Sweetness of Water
Gorgeously written and compulsively readable, The Great Reclamation is both an intimate love story and an epic historical tale that is sure to be read for years to come. Heng's writing is full of rich, sensuous detail - mysteriously appearing islands, the smell of rain on hot monsoon evenings, the fierce burn of a rubber seed when pressed against the skin - that mesmerizes on every page. She deals with difficult questions - who, and what, are we willing to sacrifice in the name of progress? - while never losing sight of the complex humanity of her characters
Julie Otsuka, author of The Buddha in the Attic
A beautifully written novel. I loved so much in this book: the richly imagined setting, the varied languages and motivations at play in this burgeoning country, the complicated love story between Lee Ah Boon and Siok Mei, and the heartbreaking way history can tear apart a family. I'm grateful to Rachel Heng for writing this gorgeous novel
Ann Napolitano, author of Dear Edward
Arresting and haunting . . . Rachel Heng asks us to consider the tensions between homeland and nationhood, and whether progress can be made without sacrifice. This is a powerful, expansive book that made my heart ache. It will stay with me for a long time
Crystal Hana Kim, author of If You Leave Me
The Great Reclamation is so beautifully written and perfectly imagined that you follow its characters out to sea, through city streets, into the corners of villages, through every strange quirk of life, until they get under your skin and into your dreams. How does Rachel Heng write about the imaginary and the historical in a way that they are both equally believable and moving and strange? I don't know how she does, it but this book is a marvel
Elizabeth McCracken, author of The Hero of This Book
I loved this book, its layering of Singapore's history with a very complicated love story . . . what a marvellous novel
Megha Majumdar, New York Times bestselling author of A Burning
A love story about both heart and home
An exquisitely written, heartbreakingly beautiful tale of love and war
Ms. Magazine
Heng wrings a great deal of emotion from Boon's experiences and relationships . . . skilfully capturing the inner psyche of a Singaporean everyman caught between two immovable worlds. This epic undertaking is not to be missed
Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
[A] story scaffolded against a sweeping backdrop - the politics of colonialism, World War II in Southeast Asia, ecology, the inexorable forces of development and modernization - with very little of that ever mentioned, instead focusing on the experiences of the characters in language of perfect simplicity. . . Like a drop of rain that holds the reflection of the world, crystalline and beautiful
Kirkus, STARRED review
Heng captures the individual and collective challenges of being human, and explores what a modern country might become after the disruption and displacement of World War II. Every bit of it is a delight
BookPage, STARRED review