The Singapore Grip

The Singapore Grip

J.G. Farrell / Mar 02, 2021

The Singapore Grip Singapore life on the eve of World War II just isn t what it used to be for Walter Blackett head of British Singapore s oldest and most powerful firm No matter how forcefully the police break o

  • Title: The Singapore Grip
  • Author: J.G. Farrell
  • ISBN: -
  • Page: 355
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Singapore, 1939 life on the eve of World War II just isn t what it used to be for Walter Blackett, head of British Singapore s oldest and most powerful firm No matter how forcefully the police break one strike, the natives go on strike somewhere else His daughter keeps entangling herself with the most unsuitable beaus, while her intended match, the son of Blackett s parSingapore, 1939 life on the eve of World War II just isn t what it used to be for Walter Blackett, head of British Singapore s oldest and most powerful firm No matter how forcefully the police break one strike, the natives go on strike somewhere else His daughter keeps entangling herself with the most unsuitable beaus, while her intended match, the son of Blackett s partner, is an idealistic sympathizer with the League of Nations and a vegetarian Business may be booming what with the war in Europe, the Allies are desperate for rubber and helpless to resist Blackett s price fixing and market manipulation but something is wrong No one suspects that the world of the British Empire, of fixed boundaries between classes and nations, is about to come to a terrible end.A love story and a war story, a tragicomic tale of a city under siege and a dying way of life, The Singapore Grip completes the Empire Trilogy that began with Troubles and the Booker prize winning Siege of Krishnapur.

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    About "J.G. Farrell"

      • J.G. Farrell

        James Gordon Farrell, known as J.G Farrell, was a Liverpool born novelist of Irish descent Farrell gained prominence for his historical fiction, most notably his Empire Trilogy Troubles, The Siege of Krishnapur and The Singapore Grip , dealing with the political and human consequences of British colonial rule The Siege of Krishnapur won the 1973 Booker Prize On 19 May 2010 it was announced that Troubles had won the Lost Man Booker Prize, which was a prize created to recognize works published in 1970 a group that had not previously been open for consideration due to a change in the eligibility rules at the time.Farrell s career was cut short when he was drowned off the coast of Ireland at the age of 44.


    1. Warning: some of the characters in this book are immensely irritating! This doesn't make it a bad book, but it did make me want to strangle Walter at regular intervals. And he's fictional. That's an accomplishment.Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

    2. This is a good book on its own, but a mediocre book when compared with Troubles and The Siege of Krishnapur, J.G. Farrell's previous books about the end of the British Empire. Another review described The Singapore Grip as more heavy-handed than the previous novels and I would agree. It was hard to really get a handle on the story because instead of characters, there were ideologies with names, all trying to get in a soliloquy about their own stances before the next one could take over the conve [...]

    3. The Tolstoy of the Asian TheatreA vast and absorbing work of historical fiction, this magnificent novel is set in Singapore, in the months leading to the fall of the city to the Japanese in 1942. The unexpected and total defeat of the commonwealth allies by forces whose fighting abilities they had previously pooh-poohed has been called the worst defeat in British military history. Farrell describes these events very well, both by getting inside the minds of the real-life commanders and by invent [...]

    4. The Singapore Grip is the 3d volume of Farrell's Empire Trilogy. Following the gradual destruction of Krishnapur during the 1st volume's depiction of the Sepoy Mutiny and the collapse of an Irish manor house in Troubles, this 3d volume is about the 1941 Japanese invasion of Malaysia and the disintegration of Singapore and British society there. The end of empire, which seems to be Farrell's big theme. The Singapore Grip is my favorite of the 3 novels. I believe it to be the most stylized novel o [...]

    5. What's stayed with me after completing this novel and the two previous books in the "Empire Trilogy" has to be how strongly delivered each story has been.This one deals with Singapore on the eve of Japanese invasion. For the Blackett family their way of life will be gone forever and their lives and those of their friends will no longer be as they know it.I will say that this book has a "darker" humor than the previous two, but I appreciate a darker humor and enjoyed it. I still have a slight lea [...]

    6. The decline of the British Empire, compressed into the fall of Singapore. From the title -- which, by the way, never quite is pinned down -- to the "Schrodinger's Cat" ending, Farrell draws romance, commerce, political theory, and an accurate retelling of military blundering. An Edwardian springs-running-down like Evelyn Waugh, but better written. All played with astonishing wit. A one quote summary?"I read somewhere that the boatman who rowed King William back across the river after the Battle [...]

    7. The Siege of Krishnapur succeeds because Farrell let his colonial characters expose their own tragicomic ridiculousness with minimal intervention. Here, in the last novel of his Empire Trilogy, he was much more heavy-handed, resulting in several main characters that are outright caricatures. Walter Blackett, the head of the eponymous British trading firm that grew fat on the pre-war Malayan rubber boom, is the Evil Capitalist-Imperialist-Racist who bumbles through his public and private lives wi [...]

    8. Farrell, J. G. THE SINGAPORE GRIP. (1973). *****. This was the third and last of Farrell’s trilogy of novels that dealt with the English colonial systems. The first, “Troubles,” tells of the conditions existing between England and Ireland right after WW I. The second, “The Siege of Krishnapore,” a Booker Prize-winner, is set in India in Farrell’s fictional town ruled by the troops of the East India Company; the time was 1857. This novel is set in Singapore during the start of WW II, [...]

    9. Based on my reading of the first two books in Farrell's Empire Trilogy, I expected this to be the conflict of the British and a native population. Farrell did give us a sort of outline of strikes and unrest beginning in about 1937. It wasn't really until the Japanese invasion of the Malay peninsula had begun that we learned the extent of the British thumb on things.I come almost entirely of English and Scottish ancestry going back several centuries. We were middle class - farmers and teachers fo [...]

    10. One very well written book on the last days of Singapore before the Japanese occupation, humorous, and tense, Farrell nails down the times, the economics, the culture, and the city with plenty of characters fictional and historical.

    11. The story revolves around the siege and subsequent fall of Singapore at the beginning of World War II. These events unfold from the perspective of a the proprietors of a traditional trading company in rubber, rice, and other Eastern products, and their extended family and acquaintances.Walter, leader of Blackett & Webb, the same company mentioned above, is a known figure on the tiny island, a vague marshland founded for the sole purpose of the security and extended prosperity of British inte [...]

    12. I was looking forward to reading The Singapore Grip but I was disappointed by it. I paid a small fortune for it in British postage costs when I belonged to an online Booker Prize reading group we had chosen The Siege of Krishnapur as a book for discussion but I couldn’t buy it here in Australia. (Yes, this was before the Book Depository existed and when the fledgling focussed on US titles). In for a penny, in for a pound, I thought, and I bought the entire Empire Trilogy comprising Troubles ( [...]

    13. Just a fantastic book in so many ways. It works on so many different levels. It's a great, sprawling character study. It describes a time and a place with what seems like honesty. Even though the characters feel real and are vested with human, interior problems, they also act as stand-ins for larger concept: ineffective idealism, self-justifying capitalism and exploitation, lost innocence; somehow, despite its subject matter, it's funny. I could go on and on. There is a scene where Farrell descr [...]

    14. I had never heard of Irishman J.G. Farrell before coming across this book, The Singapore Grip. It seems that he achieved a lot in his short life (he died while swimming in 1979 at the age of 44). This is the third of his books based on the fall of the British colonial empire known as the —Empire Trilogy— that began with Troubles (Ireland) and the Booker prize-winning Siege of Krishnapur (India). This novel is an epic novel in scope starting in 1939 before Singapore falls to the Japanese. Far [...]

    15. A combination of 'The Great Gatsby' and 'Catch-22'. Has everything: memorable characters, action, romance, social commentary, philosophy, and a sprawling historical saga. Absolutely one of the most hilarious reads ever. Wonderfully polished, garrulous, insightful, confiding-in-the-reader-style book; a wry, tongue-in-cheek peek into the lives of quaint, lost, forgotten Britishers and their colonial ways during the height of the Empire. Amusing, exotic, lively. A must for all anglophiles. Farrell' [...]

    16. A more scathing indictment of British colonialism, or in fact any form of colonialism is hard to imagine. With humour Farrell unmasks the smug hypocrisy that blanketed acts of complete immorality. Yet the novel although overlong is no didactic creed,the author has the confidence to let the reader draw his own conclusions from a deft and very funny satire and social history.Upon his fathers death a young idealist is summonsed to Singapore by the very very venal mr Blackett. As the young man stumb [...]

    17. An almost-masterpiece. Only problem: too long! Very intelligent and well researched. The title: a word play between the Engl. "grip" and the Fr. "grippe" (flu).

    18. J.G. FarrellThe Singapore GripBy Drew Calvert"The Singapore Grip" was reviewed in The Literary Review"Loss Control" Fall 2012theliteraryreviewThe Singapore Grip is the final installment of J.G. Farrell’s “Empire Trilogy,” which chronicles the spectacle of British colonialism over the course of two centuries, from Ireland to India to Southeast Asia. It is also one of the only Anglo-American works of fiction set primarily in the city in which I grew up. I discovered it over a decade ago on t [...]

    19. Farrell is a brilliant writer, and this is the third of his trilogy concerning the decline of the British Empire. He has a luscious writing style and he juxtaposes serious situations with peculiar British mannerisms to hilarious results. All three of these novels are set in situations of significant violence and danger, yet the steadfast British proceed with stuffy propriety, virtually oblivious to the crumbling world about them, while focused on matters of consummate insignificance. His charact [...]

    20. J. G. Farrell published three marvelous books (known as the Empire Trilogy) in the 1970s on very different aspects of the British colonial experience. Had he not been tragically swept to his death at 44 in the Irish Sea by a storm wave, he would probably be much better known.There is a strong admixture of satire and irony in his treatment of his chosen times and places but it is not outright mockery at the expense of detailed consideration of the moral, economic and political issues of each.As t [...]

    21. Third in Farrell s Empire trilogy, The Singapore Grip is also theworst , a term I emphasize is relative only within the trilogy (The Siege of Krishnapur and Troubles being the first two). Farrell examined the role of the British in their colonial empire and set them up for ridicule. He succeeded brilliantly with the first two, especially with Troubles, which is a masterpiece. However, there is a boundary line in satire; if you go too far over that line, the figures stop being objects of mockery [...]

    22. Good but not as good as the previous two books in this trilogy on different instances of the British empire interacting poorly with the people they ruled over outside of their own island. The characters were more one-sided and the story had a far more cynical bent than 'Siege of Krishnapur' or 'Troubles.' The characters are divided into two camps, good guys and bad guys, and this was not as interesting to read about as it would have been to balance the characters' personalities a bit more. I did [...]

    23. Farrell is undergoing a renaissance of sorts, receiving from the New York Review of Books that most sincere of all posthumous honors, re-publication. The defects (he was not bothered by the need for depth in his characters and was even less interested in noting what happened to all of them) perhaps respond to where he stood in the flow of British fiction. Farrell wrote in the sixties but he is remembered for his novels of the seventies, where they stand as a coda to the British Empire (set in th [...]

    24. So glad I finally decided to read the final book in the Empire Trilogy. These books are so well written I almost can't stand it. This may actually be the weakest of the three, but that is only because Troubles and The Siege of Krishnapur are two of the best books of the 20th c. The sense of dread when reading as the British characters drink gin & tonics and organize tennis parties while the empire is literally crumbling around them. The outrage about the vast cruelty and exploitation of colo [...]

    25. Excellent historical fiction and satire on the Fall of Malaya and Singapore to the Japanese and the ramp up to this military disaster by under-supplied and poorly commanded British and Austrailian troops. On February, 1942, Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival surrendered to General Tomoyuki Yamashita of the Japanese Imperial Army. About 130,000 Indian, Austrailian, and British troops became prisioners of war. Singapore civilians of many ethnicities were also captured. A high number so Singapore c [...]

    26. Two books, really.The first half or so is a beautiful comedy about colonial, mercantile Singapore just before the fall. The characters are introduced, the stage is set, and aside from the sense of impending doom, life goes on as it has for 50 years. Walter and his horrible daughter Joan are characters you'll love to hate, but you won't know what to think about Matthew, the ineffectual dreamer.Then come the Japanese, and the comedy pretty much ends. Matthew, the Major, Dupigny, Mr. Wu, Vera Chain [...]

    27. A fitting end to the Empire trilogy, with Farrell digging deep into the consequences of economic colonialism. The devil is in the detail, but so is the richness that prevents Farrell's characters from becoming puppets or mouthpieces for the various ideologies that sustained and sought to undermine the stranglehold of western business in the imperial colonies of the east. I found much of the book moving, particularly the chapter in which Matthew is taken by the Vera to the dying house and forced [...]

    28. The reading of J.G. Farrell's trilogy: "Troubles," "Siege at Krishnapur" and "The Singapore Grip" has been one the greatest experiences of my nearly 58 years of bookworm life. Farrell's understanding of people and circumstances and his truly Dickensian story telling skills (I've not read a writer who lifts the veil on scenes in a way as reminiscent of Dickens and Farrell) are breathtaking.I will miss the people I met in these books very much.

    29. Historical fiction is my favorite genre so this is the kind of book I enjoy. Good tale about Singapore before it fell to Japan in WWII. Does an excellent job recreating Singapore as it existed then. I could touch it, feel it, smell it. Excellent story teller. At times a little too preachy on his view of the world through various characters but does well in chronicaling the excesses of the British Empire.

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