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The Pandemic Cookbook by Hsu Li Yang & Sonny Liew: Not just a recipe book!

Official Synopsis:

When COVID-19 started to spread around the world in early 2020, Singapore’s readiness to deal with a global pandemic was put to the test. There were both wise decisions and missteps along the way, while questions about scientific consensus, trade-offs and vaccines swirled about in our hyperconnected age of social media. The Pandemic Cookbook revisits those early days of unprecedented global disruption, including social distancing rules, Circuit Breakers, migrant worker dormitory lockdowns, elections and TraceTogether controversies.

Based on interviews with front-line workers, journalists, policymakers, academics, migrant workers and more, infectious diseases expert Dr Hsu Li Yang and Eisner-winning graphic novelist Sonny Liew present a unique recollection of Singapore’s pandemic experience.

Tags and themes:

#PublicInformation #Educational #COVID19 #GraphicMedicine #Medical #Publicpolicy #Collaboration #Science #Research #GraphicNovel 

What’s it about and why should I read it?

Historical moments or critical times tend to incur an explosion of cultural products such as graphic novels, memoirs, documentaries, films and dramas. These creative visual outputs serve a variety of purposes other than their original association with entertainment, such as personal catharsis, political propagandas, journalistic outputs, institutional commemorations and much more. The Pandemic Cookbook is among one of such artefacts produced to demystify some of the governmental decisions and actions during the early periods of the Covid-19 outbreak in Singapore. The content is based on interviews with various stakeholders who are affected by the outbreak or are directly involved in the implementation of new policies. 

It is a challenging task for the writer and artist to present interviews in a comic book format, as most of such contents consists of rather lengthy monologues emerging from static talking heads laid out in repetitive panels across the pages. Yet Liew breaks this otherwise monotonous layout with an arsenal of designs: at the ends of the chapters there are illustrated recipes of some common dishes made popular during the pandemic, and the chapter covers pay tribute to popular classic comic book covers. At 176 pages and printed in full colours, the book is substantial in both visual and material quality, ready to be added into any personal or public collection of serious local graphic novels.

A typical page where an interviewee explains the policy making process. The book also weaves together objective facts and subjective observations.

This is one of the reasons why the book is titled “The Pandemic Cookbook”: readers can find recipes of various pandemic-related dishes. Food is particularly effective in evoking memories and emotions.

One of the many chapter covers, full of easter eggs for those who are old enough to recognise them.


1 volume, published October 2022. 176 pages, full colour paperback.

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