Calling all muggles and magical folks alike! We give you the lowdown on what has become one of the most popular works of fiction in Singapore literature.
The popular Harry Potter parody by ex-Mediacorp screenwriter Suffian Hakim (read our interview with him here) has the potential to be the most widely read SingLit book in recent history.
Harris Bin Potter and the Stoned Philosopher has such mass appeal, our National Reading Movement would have way more success if they just thrust a copy of this into everyone’s hands – just saying.
First off, you don’t want to read this book in public spaces like parks, cafés or MRT trains, unless of course, you don’t mind people staring while you struggle to suppress your laughter and end up with a full-blown case of hiccups.
You may also have friends who consider this work of literature too low-brow. So, if you need your Iliad or Great Expectations street cred intact and unsullied, just read at home then don’t tell anybody lah.
In this local remake, the magical folk of this sunny island are suddenly losing their powers and turning into kosongs – or muggles – as we know them from the original Harry Potter series.
In a strange sequence of events, and with a little help from The Stoned Philosopher, Harris is able to solve the mystery and save the wizards and witches of Singapore. Thankfully, defeating That-Evil-Bastard-Lah-You-Should-Know-Who-I’m-Talking-About was a piece of cake, too.
To really enjoy this book, a basic working knowledge of Malay or the help of a Malay-speaking friend would be useful. For example, Hermione in the original Harry Potter series is called Her-Aku-Punya-Lutut in this book (“Aku punya lutut” literally translates to “my knee” in Malay).
The author has also included footnotes to explain various non-English (e.g. Sayang) or made-up (e.g. MatSedap) terms and by-the-way comments (e.g. we learn that Singapore’s magical community maintains relationships with the non-magical community on a need-to-know basis).
Most of our favourite Harry Potter references are given a ridiculous local update in this book, including Hogwarts which is called Hog-Tak-Halal-What. Imagine a world where dark spells are made up of Malay folksong lyrics, wizards play void deck football, and the Sorting Hat is well, the Sorting Songkok.
A socio-political commentary…somewhat
The author also manages to sneakily lace the uproarious text with social and political commentary. For instance, there is a brief and non-consequential discussion on what a transparent government would mean for Singapore before the speaker abruptly decides to go to the toilet.
There is also a Caucasian character, Tyler, who questions if he is freer than the rest of us Singaporeans because of his race, before promptly reminding us not to believe everything taxi drivers say.
Finally, there’s this trippy line on how no smoking signs at HDB blocks are merely “telling us that we shouldn’t smoke in the void deck because there is a world beyond the void deck in which we can…smoke”. Say what?!
Granted, you will get your fill of lame dad jokes (Q: What STD can you get from phone sex? A: Hearing AIDS) and your eyes will probably get tired from all the rolling, but this is such a ridiculously fun and easy read you could easily crush it in one sitting. Don’t say we bo jio!
Grab your copy from BooksActually here
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