Thursday, May 31, 2007

June 2007 Highlights

1. The Maytrees (2007) / Annie Dillard
2. Forgive Me (2007) / Amanda Eyre Ward
3. Tom Bedlam (2007) / George Hagen
4. North River (2007) / Pete Hamill
5. Fair Play (2007) / Tove Jansson [trans. from the Swedish, Rent Spel (1989), by Thomas Teal]
6. Mister Pip (first published in New Zealand in 2006) (2007) / Lloyd Jones
7. Sorry (2007) / Gail Jones
8. The Woman in the Fifth (2007) / Douglas Kennedy
9. When We Were Romans (2007) / Matthew Kneale
10. Lost Men (2007) / Brian Leung
11. The Gravedigger’s Daughter (2007) / Joyce Carol Oates
12. Sarah’s Key (St. Martin’s Press, 2007) / Tatiana de Rosnay
13. Peony in Love (2007) / Lisa See
14. Resistance (2007) / Owen Sheers
15. What Will Survive (2007) / Joan Smith
16. The Road Home (2007) / Rose Tremain
17. If Today Be Sweet (2007) / Thrity Umrigar
18. The Shadow Catcher (2007) / Marianne Wiggins

First Novels
1. Mirror, Mirror (2007) / Maria Alvarez
2. Children of the Revolution (first published as The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears in the U.S. in March 2007) (2007) / Dinaw Mengestu

1. Jesus Out to Sea (2007) / James Lee Burke
2. The Separate Heart and Other Stories (2007) / Simon Robson
3. Throw Like a Girl (2007) / Jean Thompson

1. The Flowering of Flint: Selected Poems (2007) / Peter Abbs
2. Selected Poems 1969-2005 (2007) / David Harsent
3. Miscreants (2007) / James Hoch
4. The Pomegranates of Kandahar (2007) / Sarah Maguire
5. Selected Poems (2007) / Thomas Kinsella
6. Typewriter Music (2007) / David Malouf
7. Common Prayer (2007) / Fiona Sampson
8. Collected Poems (2007) / Anthony Thwaite
9. Littlefoot: A Poem (2007) / Charles Wright

1. Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance (2007) / John Berger
2. Blood River: A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart (Chatto & Windus, 2007) / Tim Butcher
3. Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World (2007) / Anthony Doerr
4. At Large and At Small: Familiar Essays (2007) / Anne Fadiman
5. Collected Columns (2007) / Michael Frayn
6. Peeling the Onion (2007) / Günter Grass [trans. from the German, Beim Häuten der Zwiebel (2006), by Michael Henry Heim]
7. Travels with Herodotus (2007) / Ryszard Kapuscinski [trans. from the Polish by Klara Glowczewska]
8. The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family’s Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World (2007) / Lucette Lagnado
9. Paper Houses: A Memoir of the 70s and Beyond (2007) / Michèle Roberts
10. The Boy Who Loved Books: A Memoir (2007) / John Sutherland

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


HAVE YOU READ ... Ryszard Kapuscinski’s Travels with Herodotus (trans. from the Polish by Klara Glowczewska) (Allen Lane/Knopf, 2007)?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Christopher HITCHENS

HAVE YOU READ ... Christopher Hitchens’s God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (published in the U.K. as God is Not Great: The Case Against Religion) (Twelve Books/Atlantic Books, 2007)?

Christopher Hitchens is an Atlantic Monthly contributing editor and a Vanity Fair columnist

Monday, May 28, 2007

2007 Commonwealth Writers Prize: Winners

THE winners of the 2007 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book and Best First Book were announced on May 29, 2007. New Zealand novelist Lloyd Jones won the best book prize for Mister Pip (Penguin New Zealand, 2006), the first New Zealand writer to win best book since Janet Frame in 1989 for The Carpathians (1988), while Canadian novelist D.Y. Béchard won the best first-book prize for Vandal Love (Doubleday Canada, 2006).

Sunday, May 27, 2007

MPH Breakfast Club for LitBloggers 4

LEE SU KIM and David Byck doing what they do best at the 4th MPH Breakfast Club for LitBloggers at MPH Bangsar Village II in Kuala Lumpur, on May 26, 2007. Both were excellent speakers; they were amusing, articulate and passionate about their areas of interest.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Read any good books lately?

An illustration by Alexander Blue from the San Francisco Chronicle

Friday, May 25, 2007

2007 Nobel Prize for Literature

BRITISH PLAYWRIGHT Harold Pinter won the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature, the first Briton to win the literature award since V.S. Naipaul won it in 2001, while Orhan Pamuk was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006 for his contribution to World Literature with a consistent body of work, both fiction and nonfiction. And Günter Grass got it in 1999. J.M. Coetzee got his in 2003.

So who will it be for 2007? A couple of candidates easily come to mind: Chinua Achebe, Margaret Atwood, John Banville, Yves Bonnefoy, Peter Carey, Don DeLillo, E.L. Doctorow, Umberto Eco, Carlos Fuentes, Peter Handke, F. Sionil Jose, Milan Kundera, Doris Lessing, Claudio Magris, David Malouf, Javier Marías, Harry Mulisch, Alice Munro, Les Murray, Michael Ondaatje, Amos Oz, Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie, Tomas Transtromer, Michel Tournier, Barry Unsworth, John Updike, Mario Vargas Llosa and A.B. Yehoshua. Who else should be shortlisted?

Paul Auster, A.S. Byatt, Anita Desai, Mary Gordon, Cormac McCarthyIan McEwan, Haruki Murakami, Joyce Carol Oates and William Trevor are also worthy choices.

The 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature will be announced on October 11, 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Contemporary Malaysia-Singapore Writings

HERE IS A LIST OF BOOKS, a mixture of fiction and nonfiction, by Malaysian (and Singaporean) writers in no particular order. This is just a preliminary listing; I will be adding more books in the course of time. Have I missed out any?

1. The Flight of the Swans (Monsoon Books, 2005) / D. Devika Bai
2. I Am Muslim (Silverfish Books, 2007) / Dina Zaman
3. From Majapahit to Putrajaya: Writings on Religious Extremism (Silverfish Books, 2005) / Farish A. Noor
4. The Other Malaysia: Writings on Malaysia’s Subaltern History (Silverfish Books, 2002) / Farish A. Noor
5. Honk! If You’re Malaysian (MPH Publishing, 2007) / Lydia Teh
6. Life’s Like That (Pelanduk Publications, 2004) / Lydia Teh
7. Glimpses (MPH Publishing, 2008) / Adibah Amin
8. As I Was Passing (MPH Publishing, 2007) / Adibah Amin
9. As I Was Passing II (MPH Publishing, 2007) / Adibah Amin
10. This End of the Rainbow (Phoenix Press, 2006) / Adibah Amin
11. Gravedigger’s Kiss (MPH Publishing, 2008) / Tunku Halim
12. 44 Cemetery Road (MPH Publishing, 2007) / Tunku Halim
13. Vermillion Eye (Pelanduk Publications, 2000) / Tunku Halim
14. Dark Demon Rising (Pelanduk Publications, 1998) / Tunku Halim
15. The Sky is Crazy: Tales from a Trolley Dolly (Marshall Cavendish, 2005) / Yvonne Lee
16. Confessions of An Old Boy: The Dato’ Hamid Adventures (Marshall Cavendish, 2007) / Kam Raslan
17. Generation: A Collection of Contemporary Malaysian Ideas (Hikayat Press, 1998) / Amir Muhammad, Kam Raslan and Sheryll Stothard
18. London Does Not Belong to Me (Maya Press, 2003) / Lee Kok Liang
19. Death is a Ceremony and Other Short Stories (Federal Publications, 1992) / Lee Kok Liang
20. Flowers in the Sky (Heinemann Asia, 1981) / Lee Kok Liang
21. The Mutes in the Sun and Other Stories (Heinemann, 1964) / Lee Kok Liang
22. A Nyonya in Texas (Marshall Cavendish, 2007) / Lee Su Kim
23. Malaysian Flavours (Pelanduk Publications, 1996) / Lee Su Kim
24. A Backpack and A Bit of Luck (Marshall Cavendish, 2007) / Zhang Su Li
25. Journeys Through Southeast Asia: Ceritalah 2 (Marshall Cavendish, 2002) / Karim Raslan
26. Ceritalah: Malaysia in Transition (Marshall Cavendish, 1996) / Karim Raslan
27. Heroes and Other Stories (Marshall Cavendish, 1997) / Karim Raslan
28. Sister Swing (Times Books International, 2006) / Shirley Lim
29. Joss and Gold (Feminist Press, 2001) / Shirley Lim
30. What the Fortune Teller Didn’t Say (University of New Mexico/West End Press, 1998) / Shirley Lim
31. Two Dreams: New and Selected Stories (Feminist Press, 1997) / Shirley Lim
32. Among the White Moon Faces: An Asian-American Memoir of Homelands (Feminist Press, 1996) / Shirley Lim
33. Life’s Mysteries: The Best of Shirley Lim (Times Books International, 1995) / Shirley Lim
34. Writing South East Asia in English: Against the Grain (Skoob Books, 1994) / Shirley Lim
35. Monsoon History: Selected Poems (Skoob Books, 1994) / Shirley Lim
36. Modern Secrets: New and Selected Poems (Dangaroo Press, 1989) / Shirley Lim
37. No Man’s Grove and Other Poems (National University of Singapore Press, 1985) / Shirley Lim
38. Another Country and Other Stories (Times Books International, 1982) / Shirley Lim
39. Crossing the Peninsula and Other Poems (Heinemann Asia, 1980) / Shirley Lim
40. Dark City (Midnight Press, 2006) / Xeus
41. A Malaysian Journey (Rehman Rashid, 1993) / Rehman Rashid
42. Map of the Invinsible World (HarperCollins India, 2009) / Tash Aw
43. The Harmony Silk Factory (HarperCollins, 2005) / Tash Aw
44. Touching Earth (Hodder & Stoughton/Sceptre, 2004) / Rani Manicka
45. The Rice Mother (Hodder & Stoughton/Sceptre, 2002) / Rani Manicka
46. The Gift of Rain (Myrmidon Press, 2007) / Tan Twan Eng
47. The Crocodile Fury (Angus & Robertson/HarperCollins Australia, 1992) / Beth Yahp
48. Yuyu and the Banyan Tree (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2008) / Tinling Choong
49. FireWife (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2007) / Tinling Choong
50. Behind the Moon (Allen & Unwin, 2005) / Hsu-Ming Teo
51. Love and Vertigo (Allen & Unwin, 2000) / Hsu-Ming Teo
52. Never Been Better (MPH Publishing, 2009) / O Thiam Chin
52. Mindgame (Hodder & Stoughton, 2000) / Yang-May Ooi
53. The Flame Tree (Hodder & Stoughton, 1998) / Yang-May Ooi
54. Breaking the Tongue (W.W. Norton & Co., 2004) / Vyvyane Loh
55. The Old House and Other Stories (Hologram, 2008) / Chuah Guat Eng
56. Echoes of Silence (Holograms, 1994) / Chuah Guat Eng
57. Tanah Tujuh (Silverfish Books, 2007) / Antares
58. Two Catfish in the Same Hole (Times Books International, 2001) / Kit Leee
59. Moth Balls (Magick River, 1994) / Kit Leee
60. Adoi! (Times Books International, 1989) / Kit Leee
61. The Merlion and the Hibiscus: Contemporary Short Stories from Singapore and Malaysia (Penguin Books India, 2002) / Dipika Mukherjee, Kirpal Singh and M.A. Quayam (eds.)
62. Nothing is Sacred (Maya Press, 2003) / Salleh Ben Joned
63. As I Please (Skoob Books, 1994) / Salleh Ben Joned
64. Live and Let Live (Kairos Research Centre, 2006) / Alex Tang
65. A Good Day to Die (Armour Publishing, 2005) / Alex Tang
66. Random Musings from a Doctor’s Chair (Armour Publishing, 2005) / Alex Tang
67. The Chinese Dilemma (East-West Publishing, 2004) / Ye Lin-Sheng
68. The Wedgwood Ladies Football Club and Other Stories (Silverfish Books, 2005) / T.R.R. Raman
69. Green is the Colour (Heinemann, 1983) / Lloyd Fernando
70. Scorpion Orchid (Heinemann, 1976) / Lloyd Fernando
71. Between Lives (Maya Press, 2003) / K.S. Maniam
72. Arriving and Other Stories (Times Books International, 1995) / K.S. Maniam
73. In a Far Country (Skoob Books, 1993) / K.S. Maniam
74. The Return (Skoob Books, 1981) / K.S. Maniam
75. Unhurried Thoughts at My Funeral (Horizon Books, 2005) / Catherine Lim
76. The Song of Silver Frond (Orion, 2003) / Catherine Lim
77. Following the Wrong God Home (Orion, 2001) / Catherine Lim
78. The Howling Silence: Tales of the Dead and Their Return (Horizon Books, 1999) / Catherine Lim
79. The Teardrop Story Woman (Orion, 1998) / Catherine Lim
80. The Bondmaid (Catherine Lim, 1995) / Catherine Lim
81. Or Else, the Lightning God and Other Stories (Heinemann Asia, 1980) / Catherine Lim
82. Little Ironies: Stories of Singapore (Heinemann Asia, 1978) / Catherine Lim
83. Prizewinning Asian Fiction (Times Books International, 1991) / Leon Comber (ed.)
84. Lovers and Strangers Revisited (Silverfish Books, 2005) / Robert Raymer
85. Lovers and Strangers (Heinemann Asia, 1993) / Robert Raymer
86. An Acre of Day’s Glass (Silverfish Books, 2006) / Wong Phui Nam
87. Against the Wilderness (Blackwater Books, 2000) / Wong Phui Nam
88. Ways of Exile (Skoob Books, 1993) / Wong Phui Nam
89. Remembering Grandma and Other Rumours (National University of Singapore, 1989) / Wong Phui Nam
90. How the Hills are Distant (University of Malaya, 1968) / Wong Phui Nam
91. A Bit of Earth (Times Books International, 2000) / Suchen Christine Lim
92. Fistful of Colours (SNP, 1993) / Suchen Christine Lim
93. Gift from the Gods (Graham Brash, 1990) / Suchen Christine Lim
94. Ricebowl (Times Editions, 1984) / Suchen Christine Lim
95. The Banana Leaf Men (Sensations Pro, 2003) / Aneeta Sundararaj
96. Nearing a Horizon (UniPress, 1994) / Ee Tiang Hong
97. Perfumed Memories (Graham Brash, 1982) / Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof
98. Mirror of a Hundred Hues: A Miscellany (The Asian Centre, Penang, 2001) / Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof
98. Time and Its People (Heinemann, 1978) / Muhammad Haji Salleh
99. The Red Cheong-sam and Other Old Tales of Malaya and Singapore (Horizon Books, 2006) / Ralph Modder
100. Friend (Landmark Books, 2003) / Edwin Thumboo
101. A Third Map: New and Selected Poems (UniPress, 1993) / Edwin Thumboo
102. Ulysses by the Merlion (Heinemann, 1979) / Edwin Thumboo
103. Gods Can Die (Heinemann, 1977) / Edwin Thumboo
104. Rib of Earth (1956) / Edwin Thumboo
105. The Angel of Changi and Other Short Stories (Angsana Press, 2005) / Goh Sin Tub
106. Tigers in Paradise (Times Editions, 2004) / Philip Jeyaretnam
107. Abraham’s Promise (Times Books International, 1994) / Philip Jeyaretnam
108. Raffles Place Ragtime (Times Books International, 1988) / Philip Jeyaretnam
109. First Loves (Times Books International, 1987) / Philip Jeyaretnam
110. A River of Roses (Times Books International, 1998) / Rex Shelley
111. Island in the Centre (Times Books International, 1995) / Rex Shelley
112. People of the Pear Tree (Times Books International, 1993) / Rex Shelley
113. The Shrimp People (Times Books International, 1991) / Rex Shelley
114. The Collected Poems of Nalla Tan (Times Books International, 1998) / Nalla Tan
115. Hearts and Crosses (Heinemann Asia, 1989) / Nalla Tan
116. Tanjung Rhu and Other Stories (Federal Publications, 1986) / Minfong Ho
117. Rice Without Rain (Andre Deutsch, 1986) / Minfong Ho
118. Death Rites: Tales from a Wake (Times Books International, 1990) / K.K. Seet
119. The City of Forgetting: The Collected Stories of Gopal Baratham (edited by Ban Kah Choon) (Times Books International, 2000) / Gopal Baratham
120. Moonrise, Sunset (Serpent’s Tail, 1996) / Gopal Baratham
121. Sayang (Times Books International, 1991) / Gopal Baratham
122. A Candle or The Sun (Serpent’s Tail, 1991) / Gopal Baratham
123. Figments of Experience and Other Stories (Times Books International, 1981) / Gopal Baratham
124. Of Memory and Desire: The Stories of Gopal Baratham (Times Books International, 2000) / Ban Kah Choon
125. The Dispeller of Worries (Marshall Cavendish, 2009) / Lau Siew Mei
126. Playing Madame Mao (Brandl & Schlesinger, 2000) / Lau Siew Mei
127. Mammon Inc. (Michael Joseph/Penguin, 2001) / Hwee Hwee Tan
128. Foreign Bodies (Michael Joseph/Penguin, 1997) / Hwee Hwee Tan
129. The Travel Writer (Picador Australia, 2006) / Simone Lazaroo
130. The Australian Fiancé (Picador Australia, 2000) / Simone Lazaroo
131. The World Waiting to be Made (Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1994) / Simone Lazaroo
132. Dance with White Clouds: A Fable for Grown-ups (Asia 2000, 2001) / Goh Poh Seng
133. The Dance of Moths (Select Books, 1995) / Goh Poh Seng
134. The Immolation (Heinemann Asia, 1977) / Goh Poh Seng
135. If We Dream Too Long (Island Press, 1972) / Goh Poh Seng
136. As Though the Gods Love Us (Nightwood Editions, 2000) / Goh Poh Seng
137. The Girl from Ermita & Selected Poems 1961-1998 (Nightwood Editions, 1998) / Goh Poh Seng
138. Bird with One Wing: A Sequence of Poems (Island Press, 1982) / Goh Poh Seng
139. Lines from Batu Ferringhi (Island Press, 1978) / Goh Poh Seng
140. Eyewitness (Heinemann Asia, 1976) / Goh Poh Seng
141. Lambada by Galilee and Other Surprises (Times Books International, 1997) / Lee Tzu Peng
142. The Brink of an Amen (Times Books International, 1991) / Lee Tzu Peng
143. Against the Next Wave (Times Books International, 1988) / Lee Tzu Peng
144. Prospect of a Drowning (Heinemann Asia, 1980) / Lee Tzu Peng
145. The Space of City Trees: Selected Poems (Skoob Books, 1999) / Arthur Yap
146. Man Snake Apple and Other Poems (Heinemann Asia, 1986) / Arthur Yap
147. Down the Line (Heinemann Asia, 1980) / Arthur Yap
148. Commonplace (Heinemann Asia, 1977) / Arthur Yap
149. Only Lines (Federal Publications, 1971) / Arthur Yap
150. Can Asians Think? (Times Books International, 1998) / Kishore Mahbubani
151. Leaving Home, Mother: Selected Poems (Angsana Books, 1999) / Robert Yeo
152. A Part of Three: Poems 1966-1988 (Select Books, 1989) / Robert Yeo
153. The Adventures of Holden Heng (Heinemann Asia, 1986) / Robert Yeo
154. And Napalm Does Not Help (Heinemann Asia, 1977) / Robert Yeo
155. Coming Home, Baby (Federal Publications, 1971) / Robert Yeo
156. Cat Walking and the Games We Play (Ethos Books, 1998) / Kirpal Singh
157. Palm Readings: Poems (Graham Brash, 1986) / Kirpal Singh
158. Diver & Other Poems (Cricket Communications, 2007) / Alina Rastam
159. Lions in Winter: Stories (MPH Publishing, 2008) / Wena Poon

Saturday, May 12, 2007

MPH Breakfast Club for LitBloggers 4

Friday, May 11, 2007


By Eric C. Forbes

THERE IS A VERY GOOD REASON editors do what they do. Yes, they edit (and then some). And it has nothing to do with conditions rooted in traumatic childhood experiences or some kind of unfathomable psychic disintegration. Believe me when I say it is indeed a traumatic experience to edit the writing of some writers. But edit we must.

What’s this with Malaysian writers who hate to be edited for fractured grammar, syntax and wrong usage of words? They seem to get their knickers in a twist over being edited. They actually believe that bad writing is acceptable and that nobody really cares about bad grammar as long as the topic is interesting. Some say that bad writing is a style! Can you believe that? And they say it with a straight face: looking at you squarely in the eyes and without blinking theirs. Some say editors do not have the qualifications to edit their stuff. (For one thing, editors do know a thing or two about the common mistakes writers make: dangling participles and misplaced modifiers, for instance. And punctuation.) Have they no idea that the editing process is for their own good? Don’t they understand that they will look bad if their books come out with all the mistakes for the world to see. Writing that is well edited do not lose the writer’s voice. In most instances, good editing enhances the writer’s voice and the essence of the story. The idea of editing is to bring about clarity, yet retaining the cadences, phrasing and grammatical structures that remain a vital stylistic component of each writer’s work.

It is real frustrating when you practically have to engage in heated negotiation and endless bargaining each time you correct the bad grammar of writers who insist on maintaining their right to write badly. What do you mean my English is not good enough? I spent a decade in Mother England getting my degrees and all and I am sure my English is as perfect as perfect can be. Strange as it may seem, the better writers are not the ones I have problems editing. Why is it always the bad ones who give me a splitting headache: they are usually arrogant, stubborn and condescending. Why is this so? If truth be told, I have no idea. Perhaps some kind of cosmic energy thing at play here.

Editors are the arbiters of quality, making sure that mediocre writing does not flood the market and stifle the minds of the reading public. For the professional editor, it is both a serious commitment and a responsibility. They are the middlemen between publishers who expect bestsellers all the time and writers who think their books are going to sell twenty million copies and secure them a yacht or two in the Aegean and perhaps a vineyard in the south of France.

Whether we like it or not, the fact of the matter is that most writers lack even the most basic of language skills. There are many common mistakes that writers make that they are unaware of. These are the stuff editors look out for: grammar (why? simply because most writers lack knowledge of basic grammar); punctuation (to make sure the commas, full-stops, colons, semicolons, hyphens and dashes are placed at all the right places); inconsistencies; unnecessarily repetitious phrases; readability (toning down on circumlocutious writing and overly long paragraphs by breaking them down into manageable chunks); pruning clichés (or allowing its sparing use); correcting the spelling and ensuring the use of consistent spelling throughout the book; checking facts and figures; revising and rewriting sentences and reorganising paragraphs for clarity of thought and fluidity; doing away with excess research and making sure the writer writes more if there is a dearth of content. Grammatical inconsistencies can be very distracting and will mar the pleasure of enjoying a good book.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are writers who rejoice in having their manuscripts rewritten by others. Thank God! Now that somebody is going to rewrite it for me, I can continue partying all night long. Rewriting manuscripts for authors is one thankless task that I wouldn’t want to wish on another living being! It’s the publishing world’s equivalent of open-heart or neurosurgery.

You can’t imagine the absurd lengths some writers go to to prevent their work from being edited. But that story is for another day. They overprotect their babies to the point of suffocating them and retarding their growth and development. Not exactly a very healthy attitude. If authors do not allow us to edit their work, I have a simple solution for it: just reject the manuscript and go on with your life. You are not going to lose anything. Most of the time, it’s for the better.

(For publishing houses, the normal procedure is to reject a manuscript outright if the author does not allow us to edit their work. Publishing house cannot lose control over the editing process. And if the manuscript is not of the quality we are looking for, we stop working on it and find a way to change that. The editor-author relationship is long term and we cannot afford to start on a wrong footing.)

We do take on manuscripts that are less than perfect if we think they have latent potential and only if the writers are willing to work hard on improving and developing them. Sadly, most of them are not willing to do that.

In the meantime, go write your perfect sentence. After all, there is nothing like the sound of a perfect sentence; yes, it crackles like dried leaves being trampled upon in the heat of a summer’s day. Of course, this is actually harder to write than it sounds.

These are just some facts of the publishing business and the craft of writing. Writing is tough. Writers must be passionate enough about the writing process. There will always be good and bad writers, though more of the latter. Good writers don’t just give up. They rise to the occasion. Facts are facts and writers must not be deluded from these facts. If you care about writing and believe in improving the way you write, you are what the publishing industry needs. Don’t give up; go forward! Believe me, this advice comes straight from the heart!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Great Selection at MPH Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur

FOUND a couple of wonderful paperbacks at MPH MidValley today, including Vikram Chandra’s latest doorstopper of a tome. Quite a satisfying catch, a wide-ranging selection of good titles, especially Kim Edward’s accomplished collection of short stories, The Secrets of a Fire King (1997), first published by W.W. Norton & Co. in 1997. I believe it is the first time this collection of stories is being sold in Malaysia. There are two stories set here in Malaysia in this collection: “Sky Juice” and “Gold.” This collection of stories was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award.

1. The Time in Between (2005) / David Bergen
2. Sacred Games (2006) / Vikram Chandra
3. The Pesthouse (2007) / Jim Crace
4. On Green Dolphin Street (2001) / Sebastian Faulks
5. A Place of Greater Safety (1992) / Hilary Mantel
6. The Road (2006) / Cormac McCarthy
7. Black Swan Green (2006) / David Mitchell
8. The Perfect Man (2006) / Naeem Murr
9. Confessions of an Old Boy (2007) / Kam Raslan
10. Kept: A Victorian Mystery (2006) / D.J. Taylor
11. Breathing Lessons (1988) / Anne Tyler
12. The Accidental Tourist (1985) / Anne Tyler
13. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982) / Anne Tyler
14. Seizure (2007) / Erica Wagner
15. The Crocodile Fury (1992) / Beth Yahp

1. The Secrets of a Fire King (1997) / Kim Edwards
2. The Stories of Mary Gordon (2006) / Mary Gordon

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Lee Su Kim ... Malaysian Flavours (1996)

Malaysian Flavours
Lee Su Kim
(Pelanduk, 1996)

Warming you from the inside out!

NO, THIS AIN’T A COOKBOOK. What a joy it is to read such a welcome chunk of Malaysiana at its very best! A book that celebrates the Malaysian way of life. In this delightful, inventive collage of anecdotal essays, Lee Su Kim looks into the heart and soul of Malaysia, past and present, with precision, humour and compelling narrative. She dissects the Malaysian psyche and its quirks and idiosyncrasies with relish and abandonment. In particular, her memories of her Peranakan (Straits Chinese) childhood and the redolence of the Peranakan kitchen will warm you from the inside out. Though humorous, her wealth of intriguing stories also bristle with a tinge of a lament for lost times. Not only has she imbued her stories of homespun ordinariness and nostalgia with a luminous sheen, she also captures the essence of being Malaysian with wit and poignance. By immersing herself in the Malaysian experience, she has distilled with nitric intensity the essence of being Malaysian. If you need one book that captures the essence of what it is to be Malaysian, you won’t go wrong with this one because it delivers exactly what its title promises: a smorgasbord of Malaysian flavours.

Check out Lee Su Kim’s Malaysian Flavours at

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Pankaj MISHRA ... Butter Chicken in Ludhiana: Travels in Small Town India (Picador, 2007)

AN AMUSING and entertaining overview of small-town India and the sociocultural changes wrought by globalisation, Butter Chicken in Ludhiana: Travels in Small Town India, is Pankaj Mishra’s first book, first published in India in 1995. It was relaunched in the U.K. in 2007. I especially enjoy reading his literary essays. I am so looking forward to a collection of essays by this purveyor of wonderful literature.

MISHRA Pankaj [1969-] Novelist, essayist, literary critic. Born in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, India. Novel The Romantics (1999: winner of the 2000 Los Angeles Times/Art Seidenbaum Book Prize for First Fiction) Nonfiction An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World (2004) Travel Temptations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan and Beyond (2006); Butter Chicken in Ludhiana: Travels in Small Town India (1995) Edited India in Mind (2005); V.S. Naipaul’s Literary Occasions: Essays (2003); V.S. Naipaul’s The Writer and the World: Essays (2002)

Monday, May 07, 2007


PULITZER PRIZE-winning novelist Anne Tyler is a hard habit to break once you get hooked on her stories. She has come a long way since her first novel, If Morning Ever Comes, in 1964. However, I only started reading her later. I remember first reading Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant 25 years ago. This novel of hers was shortlisted for the 1982 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. And, of course, she got the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Breathing Lessons (1988).

TYLER Anne [1941-] Novelist, short-story writer. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. Novels Digging to America (2006); The Amateur Marriage (2004); Back When We Were Grownups (2001); A Patchwork Planet (1998); Ladder of Years (1995); Saint Maybe (1991); Breathing Lessons (1988: winner of the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction); The Accidental Tourist (1985: winner of the 1985 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction; shortlisted for the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction); Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982: shortlisted for the 1982 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction); Morgan’s Passing (1980: shortlisted for the 1980 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction); Earthly Possessions (1977); Searching for Caleb (1975); Celestial Navigation (1974); The Clock Winder (1972); A Slipping-Down Life (1970); The Tin Can Tree (1965); If Morning Ever Comes (1964) Edited The Best American Short Stories (with S. Ravenel) (1983) Children’s Tumble Tower (1993)

Novels Digging to America (2006); Breathing Lessons (1988); The Accidental Tourist (1985); Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982)