Category Archives: Kempen Baca Buku Buatan Malaysia

The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng

In pre-WW2 Malaya, Anglo-Chinese Philip Hutton befriends Japanese aikijutsu master Hayato Endo. It doesn’t turn out well.

Surprise feature of this book: it’s a reincarnation story!

Probably won’t read Garden of Evening Mists as I understand it’s in a fairly similar vein, only with Japanese gardens instead of martial arts, and Cameron Highlands instead of Penang.

May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969, by Kua Kia Soong

This is going to be a very short blog post because I am too scared to comment on this book at length! I was a bit surprised to be able to find it in MPH tbh.

This is definitely a piece of polemic, as various people have pointed out on GoodReads. I am not 100% sure about some of the conclusions drawn, if only because some of the extracts Kua quotes do not seem to say what he thinks they say. Sometimes he will say, “The following telegram from a foreign correspondent shows¬†X“, and the quote doesn’t seem to show¬†X at all, but X + uncertainty, or even Y. I’m with the GoodReads reviewer who says it would’ve worked better if the reader was given the opportunity to read the documents themselves and draw their own conclusions, with only so much external commentary as was required to provide context.

Still, at least I know more now than I did before! Felt very katak di bawah tempurung while reading some of it.

I promise I will be starting on the novels that I claimed would be part of my Kempen Baca Buku Buatan Malaysia soon. Starting tomorrow! My first book will be Tan Twan Eng’s Gift of Rain, i.e. the one that didn’t get shortlisted for the Booker.

Hidup Bagaikan Sungai Mengalir oleh Agnes Khoo

Kicking off my New Year’s resolution reading project (tag: Kempen Baca Buku Buatan Malaysia) with Hidup Bagaikan Sungai Mengalir, or Life as the River Flows, by Singaporean historian Agnes Khoo. I have decided this book counts for Kempen purposes even though it’s not fiction, not in English, and not on my original list. So whatz? I make the rules here!

Wah, this book literally took me 4 years to read lor. I remember talking about it on Dreamwidth when I first bought it at a NGO fundraising annual dinner in KL. It’s not that it’s not interesting! It’s a collection of interviews with 16 female guerrilla fighters involved in the Communist anti-colonial movement in Malaysia and Singapore from the 1930s to 1989. It would be hard for it not to be interesting! I think my slowness was partly because, its being oral history and about several different people, there wasn’t really an overarching narrative arc to stop me being distracted by other things. But the main reason is ‘cos it’s in Malay and I read so much slower in Malay. /o\

(The dumb thing is the original book is in English and I just bought it in translation because I felt like I should work on my BM. But what is really dumb is that on the same visit home I bought A. Samad Said’s Salina in English. Eh what lah you. /o\)

Anyway, I’m really glad I read this, and may buy the English-language version as well, for ease of future reference! It’s a fascinating part of history that people still don’t talk about, about people who are misrepresented (where they aren’t forgotten) to this day.

Observations:

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New Year’s resolution: catch up on my reading of Malaysian writers in English

I have decided that next year must be the year I catch up with my reading of Malaysian writers in English. My focus will be on novels — preferably ones I can find easily in the UK to start with (though I’ll try to pick up any I can’t find here on my trip home). I won’t bind myself to reading all the books listed below, but I’ll read at least one book per author.

Recommendations welcome! My list not many Malay authors lor, ‘cos most of the ones I can think of off the top of my head write in Malay rather than English. But obvs I’d be happy to add more.

Read

Yangsze Choo, The Ghost Bride

Preeta Samarasan, Evening is the Whole Day

Shamini Flint, Inspector Singh series (two books, anyway! Aiya counted la.)

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