Book of the Month

'Without - Stories of lack and longing'

by Michele Koh Morollo


What’s missing in your life? What keeps you up at night? What will make you happy?

What will make you whole? These are the things that the stories in Without explore.

Lack, a companion to all, reveals itself in different ways in these 15 tales, offering glimpses into how we live without the things we want, need, or think we ought to have. Through the eyes of characters from across the world, Without brings you into lives where contentment is just out of reach.

On the way to visit her grandfather’s grave, a young girl discovers the meaning of compassion. An encounter between two strangers on the Athens Metro reveals different takes on the migrant crisis. An unwelcomed visitor prompts a Canadian couple to reassess their life together. Noisy neighbours awaken a solitary sonographer's denied desires. A high-flying advertising man in Hong Kong gives up more than he intended, for the next big slogan. Through encounters with the sea, a woman walks through her fears, and learns about loving and letting go.

Whether what’s missing is intangible – courage, liberty, imagination, or a new beginning, or something more substantial like a lover, a child, or a home, life is seen in different colours, for those without.


“Short story lovers will find much to enjoy in these evocative tales. The settings are varied, but there's a rich, consistent literary tone that makes it a great summer read.”

– Nury Vittachi, journalist, and author of The Feng  Shui Detective series.

“Like Graham Swift’s 'Last Orders', Koh Morollo’s work offers a timely, heartfelt reminder that there is no such thing as an ordinary life. Stripping away the misleading, and sometimes grubby veneer, she examines the lives of forgotten people, neglected souls navigating complicated, messy, unpredictable lives, often struggling to find the right path. 'Without' takes readers on that complex, emotional journey, guiding us through with wit, warmth and, most importantly of all, empathy.”

– Neil Humpreys, author of Singapore best-seller Complete Notes from Singapore

“Transcending geographical boundaries, these stories cast deft and compassionate glances across swaths of emotional terrain, zooming in on relationships in deeply poignant ways.”

– Cyril Wong, award-winning poet, and author of Ten Things My Father Never Taught Me and Other Stories

“These are stories I would have liked to write. Set in countries like Hong Kong, the UK, Canada and Greece, they sparkle with arresting characters, authentic dialogue, and accurate and evocative sense of place. Some stories such as ‘Global Warming’, ‘Without’, ‘Listen If You Will’ and ‘For Better Thinking’ demand rereading. An impressive debut.”

– Robert Yeo, Southeast Asia literary pioneer, and author of The Adventures of Holden Heng


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