In 2002, Neil Humphreys wrote a feature in TODAY newspaper examining inter-racial relationships in Singapore.
The piece attracted more public feedback than any other issue that week (including the topic of recycled water, which raised the possibility of people drinking their own piss) and a popular weekly column was born.
Within a year, readers (and particularly readers who were also Neil’s publishers) enquired about a second book. So in 2003, Neil demonstrated a spectacular lack of originality and released a collection of his columns (with a few new ones) and his wife gave him the title: Scribbles From the Same Island.
His second book actually sold better than the first, initially, and succeeded in uniting two separate audiences: The original readers from his first book and the new column readers, who now went back and bought and read Notes From An Even Smaller Island for the first time.
As a result, Neil had both books in Singapore’s national top 10 at the same time. For about three weeks, he felt like the Beatles, J K Rowling and at least a dozen unfamiliar Asian self-help authors. Critics said there was too much swearing. His mother said there wasn’t enough.
What they say
“Some of his observations are so bitingly spot-on, you don’t know whether to laugh or just hit him on the head.”
“He is that voice in your conscience that you wish will go away and let you be that kiasu, kaypoh and uptight Singaporean that you’ve become.”
“That’s Humphreys’ specialty – coaxing humourous thoughts from otherwise conservative minds, and making liberal thinkers gaffaw mindlessly.”
Sunday Mail (Malaysia)