Winner of the 2018 Epigram Books Fiction Prize
Sukhin is a thirty-five-year-old teacher who lives alone. His life consists of reading, working and visiting his parents’ to rearrange his piles of “collectibles”. He has only one friend, another teacher who has managed to force Sukhin into a friendship by sheer doggedness.
While on an errand one afternoon in Chinatown, he encounters a homeless person who recognises him. This chance reunion turns Sukhin’s well-planned life upside down, and the pair learns about love and sacrifice over their shared fondness for cake.
"This novel about a teacher and a homeless person is so “Singaporean” in a tender, sometimes painful, even bitchy and surprisingly funny way, which many sensitive Singaporean readers may appreciate, especially in the manner that personal relationships are shaped—or shaken—by our deeply entrenched cultural conditionings."
— Cyril Wong, two-time Singapore Literature Prize winner, in "My Book of the Year 2019", Singapore Unbound
"This is the book that readers in Singapore didn’t realise they longed for — a tale, told by a storyteller, not pretending to signify anything but itself. And in doing so, Jo-ann Yeoh invites us into the world — of teachers, love, loss, cake — she has brought forth. And we, and our worlds, are so much richer for it."
— Jeremy Fernando, reader and writer, in "My Book of the Year 2019", Singapore Unbound
"It reveals a whole side of Singapore that many people in Singapore may not be aware of, with a dry sense of humour and a deep understanding of human difficulties and the problems faced by Singapore as an urban centre."
— Professor Rajeev S. Patke, director of the Division of Humanities at Yale-NUS College
"Singapore-based Malaysian writer Yeoh Jo-Ann's winsome debut novel is a confection of serious ingredients iced with whimsy."
— The Straits Times
"An impressive novel that has cake playing a secondary albeit important role in it. Used to soothe, cajole and impress, Yeoh’s clever use of cakes (they’re delightfully tucked in between her prose) sets the theme of love, loss and redemption in one delicious mix of ingredients."
— New Straits Times
"Like the tiered cardboard cake on its cover, Impractical Uses of Cake tells a multi-layered, diverse story of Singapore ... it stirs in whimsical flavours with its serious subjects."
— The Weekender Singapore
"This novel has many strengths but chief amongst them is Ms Yeoh’s characterisation of Sukhin, who is surely one of literature’s most charming doormats."
— Yahoo Lifestyle