“Early in my working life I had discovered that salesmanship consisted not of providing people with what they needed, but with that was essential to their dreams. I was confident that our dining-room suite, complete with carpets, curtains and an artificial fireplace, would shortly be snapped up by people occupying oven-hot semis in the newer and, as yet, treeless, housing estates on the island. The possibility of winter is essential to the happiness of people living in the tropics.”
Hernie Perera runs the furniture department in Benson’s, the largest store in Singapore. In his spare time, he writes stories. Suddenly, his comfortable life is shattered. His father is found to have terminal cancer, he loses his job, and his lover joins the 'Children of the Book.' a Christian sect committed to overthrowing an oppressive government.
An old acquaintance and government official promises Hernie literary success in exchange for information on the 'Children of the Book.' He must now decide between the rewards of political corruption and his conscience.
With passion and humour, A Candle or the Sun reveals a Singapore far different from the tourist brochures.
The late Dr. Gopal Baratham (1935–2002) was a proud Singaporean, a distinguished writer and a prominent neurosurgeon in about equal parts. He was born in the quiet of the mid-thirties, survived in the turmoil of the fifties and sixties and in the nineties, found the tranquility for writing.
Considered a literary light during his lifetime, his oeuvre consists of five volumes of short stories, three novels and non-fiction book. This first book, A Candle or The Sun, won the Southeast Asia Write Award in 1991 and was short-listed for the Commonwealth Book Prize in 1992. One of the first Singapore writers to have their work published by an overseas publisher, his books also received much international praise.