Good Reading : October 2017
It’s often said that memory is fickle, but scientists have been revealing in recent decades the disturbing extent to which our memories can be distorted. In 2000, researchers had volunteers looks at a collection of photos from their childhood, which included a fake image of the volunteer’s family riding in a hot-air balloon. Half of the participants in interviews afterwards recalled having departed on the balloon trip that never took place. This unreliability of memory is what Malaysia-born Felicia Yap set out to investigate in her debut novel, Yesterday. ‘I wanted to explore the slippery nature of memory, our capacity for self-delusion,’ Felicia said. ‘Yesterday is about the lies we choose to tell ourselves, the pasts we prefer. What if we can’t remember the crimes we committed in the past, or managed to convince ourselves that we weren’t to blame?’ Felicia’s own past began in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital. Her mother worked in a car repair shop and her father worked in a bank. She left Malaysia to study biochemistry at Imperial College London and researched radioactive cells in Heidelberg, Germany. Felicia completed a doctorate in history at Cambridge, in which she investigated the experiences of Asian prisoners of war in World War II. She has also had pieces of journalism regularly published in The Economist, worked as a catwalk model and competed in ballroom dancing. She was on her way to a dancing class when the thought that gave rise to her first novel popped into her head: how do you solve a murder if you can only remember yesterday? The question only took form as a novel when a random woman sent Felicia a friend request on Facebook. Instead of sensibly deleting the stranger’s request, Felicia accepted. Something about the woman’s face seemed trustworthy. The woman immediately apologised, saying that she had mistaken Felicia for one of her classmates from Faber Academy. As a result of this serendipitous encounter, Felicia ended up attending one of the academy’s writing courses GOODREADINGMAGAZINE.COM.AU GOOD READING OCTOBER 2017 22 MEMORY & MURDER Spot light on crime ned kelly award winners FOR BEST CRIME NOVEL gr Scuba diving, ballroom dancing and writing are the three favourite activities of Malaysian-born novelist FELICIA YAP. The multiskilled debut author tells gr about her new thriller, Yesterday, in which characters with severely limited memories must solve the mysteries surrounding a body that has been pulled out of an English river.