by Karina Schaapman
John Murray, HK$148
There's a whiff of writing-as-therapy in this tell-all work by Karina Schaapman, a politician in the Netherlands who decided to write her memoirs when, in 2002, rumours about her past threatened to derail her career. Described as a 'true story of love and survival', Motherless chronicles monotonously and in linear fashion the challenges she faced. Because her father left when she was born, she spent her first 13 years in a small council flat with her mother, who struggled to provide food. She suffered taunts from people who called her and her Chinese-Indonesian mother 'peanut-pooh-chinkies' or 'rice pickers'. After her mother succumbed to cancer, the situation worsened. Schaapman was forced to live with a father she had never met, made to pretend she was his niece and subjected to physical and psychological abuse. Readers of misery memoirs will know things have to deteriorate even further before redemption arrives. They did. After fleeing to Amsterdam Schaapman fell into prostitution and pornography - even after meeting a man she wanted to marry. Schaapman, who revived her career with these revelations, is no writer. But political acumen compensates for what she lacks in literary skills.