The Sound of SCH

Winner of the Singapore Literature Prize (Non-Fiction) 2016


The Sound of SCH cover image

Can a life weave along through the same notes and yet come to play forth different sounds?

When I think of my uncle, I hear the sounds:

– Seng, an ordinary name;

– Rough brown bristles tied to one end of a wooden stick brushing against the rough brown leaves;

– Rubber slippers brushing against the floor;

– Voices hushed in scholarly discussion;

– Other voices calling out “xiao lang, xiao lang”;

– Chopped garlic and bean sprouts sizzling in a wok.

 Perhaps each of our lives has its own sound, meandering alone amidst other sounds, and sometimes, another sound comes along, mirroring the first, moving in tandem, nudging the first along. Music? Who cares to listen? Well, you never know.


“An unflinching memoir of how mental illness rips the heart out of a family. It is as brutally honest as it is compassionate. Only a handful of books have moved me to tears. The Sound of SCH is one of them.”

– Felix Cheong, Chief Judge for Singapore Literature Prize (Non-Fiction) 2016


“Danielle Lim is that rare thing, a true talent. In this slim but masterful book, her spare and beautiful writing encompasses without sentimentality the grief and guilt of dealing with mental illness. In the process she reaffirms not only our own humanity but shows that whatever our trials, life is still worth living.”

– Meira Chand, author of A Different Sky