Thursday, December 23, 2004

TOUCHING EARTH
Rani Manicka
Sceptre (2004)

THE HARMONY SILK FACTORY
Tash Aw
Fourth Estate (2005)

The Matriarch of Malaysia is back!

YES, the Matriarch of Malaysia is back. Rani Manicka is back with her sophomore effort, Touching Earth (2004), which is quite a departure from her début novel, The Rice Mother (2002), a sprawling, fragrantly exotic multigenerational Malayan family saga. If you are looking for something different, this may be just the book for you.

With The Rice Mother, Rani Manicka has finally made the international breakthrough for a Malaysian novel that we have been talking about for years. For too long a time have we been grappling with the definition of a Malaysian novel and The Rice Mother has shown us what that is: a Malaysian novel is one that appeals to both Malaysians and foreigners alike. Yes, it is as simple as that.

Another novel by a Malaysian will be making its début in March 2005: Tash Aw's The Harmony Silk Factory (Fourth Estate), a sprawling World War II saga set in Japanese-occupied Malaya. A colourful, gripping story told in lucid, uncluttered prose.

9 Comments:

Blogger Susan Abraham said...

Hi Eric,
Just got to hear about your blog through a "notable source..."
Its enlightening & interesting; I wish you would write more often.
I thought The Banana Leaf Men by Aneeta Sundararaj as the worst book I'd read in my whole life and I'm afraid, shamelessly torment her all the time in my own blog (http://www.suzanabrams.blogspot.com)
I feel she has spoilt the Malaysian writing industry summat!
Also, I thought the second worst book I'd read was Malaysian writer's Shoba Mano's Treacherous Terrains of Love". Both I believe, were self-published to horrifying episodes of stupidity matched with delusions of self-invented fame. susan

Thursday, December 23, 2004 8:34:00 PM  
Blogger Susan Abraham said...

Hello again,
Sorry but
for the last line, make that, "...matched with coordinating delusions of a self-invented fame."
susan

Thursday, December 23, 2004 8:47:00 PM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

Hello Susan:

I really appreciate your comments and your nice words. We must appreciate the fact that with The Rice Mother, Rani Manicka has finally made the international breakthrough for a Malaysian novel that we have been talking about for years. I am really glad for her. For too long a time have we been grappling with the definition of a Malaysian novel and The Rice Mother has shown us the way. A Malaysian novel is one that appeals to both Malaysians and foreigners.

Friday, December 24, 2004 1:34:00 AM  
Blogger scribe said...

Hello Eric,
Having seen and read your blog, I must say that your thoughts are rather well articulated, with mostly intelligent and gentlemanly comments.

However, I am horrified and distressed that you have accepted disgraceful comments from Susan Abraham.

This lady sounds very much like the amateur journalist she is, and I’m guessing that she’s also a failed writer as well.

Clearly, Susan Abraham’s comments on Malaysian writers and her ludicrous assumptions and claims are akin to one of a frustrated woman who is simply angry that others have made it in the literary world while she is unable to do so.

This failed writer (Susan Abraham) starts by "sucking up" to you with a wish that "you would write more often".

Then Susan Abraham, who nobody has ever heard of (and I have checked with journalist friends in Malaysia, Singapore and London), and who has NEVER published a single book, has the audacity to criticise Aneeta Sundararaj and Shoba Mano for their effort.

Susan Abraham's claim that The Banana Leaf Men by Aneeta Sundararaj is the worst book she'd read in her whole life is just one person's opinion -- her's!

Then she goes on to openly say that she has been "shamelessly tormenting Aneeta Sundararaj all the time in her own blog.

Susan Abraham, according to her own claims, is “a travel journalist”. Travel journalist? So what makes her suddenly decide that she qualifies to be a literary critique, which requires far more brains than being a travel journalist!

Having done enough damage to Malaysian authors with her spite and stupidity, Susan Abraham even sinks to new lows when taking a cheap shot at Shoba Mano.

Firstly, for a person who claims to have read Shoba Mano’s book, Susan Abraham has “purposely and spitefully” got the name of the book wrong (It’s Love’s Treacherous Terrain and not Treacherous Terrains of Love as Susan Abraham claims). This is purely an attempt to dismiss the book.

Surely, for someone who considers herself better then everyone else, Susan Abraham must have a little common sense, and to put it bluntly, a child’s intelligence to know the name of the book she had recently read.

At the very least, getting the name right would have given Susan Abraham some semblance of professionalism. But she has failed even here, just as she has failed as a travel journalist and writer too!

I have read Shoba Mano’s Love’s Treacherous Terrain, and yes, although there are a few mistakes in the tenses here and there, this is purely the result of rush editing on the part of her publisher. Yes, I said publisher.

Contrary to another spiteful lie by Susan Abraham who claimed Shoba Mano was self-published, in reality, her book was published by OM Books, one of the biggest publishers in India. This is not difficult to find out as the publisher's name is in the book itself.

Or is Susan Abraham's ignorance of this basic fact just another example of her incompetence?

Furthermore, I found Love's Trecherous Terrain rather refreshing, and the plot interesting.

I have loaned the book to three other people, and all who read the book have one common thing to say – they could not put it down! Isn’t that what an interesting book is supposed to achieve?

Nonetheless, what takes the cake is Susan Abraham’s claim that these two authors – Aneeta Sundraraj and Shoba Mano – “are self-published to horrifying episodes of stupidity matched with delusions of self-invented fame.”

In Shoba Mano's case, we already know this to be a blatent lie!
She later amends her remark to "...matched with coordinating delusions of a self-invented fame."

Hmmm … sounds like the "failed travel journalist-cum-writer", Susan Abraham, is talking about herself. Perhaps we should add that she's a failed human being to that as well.

By the way, I had sent in these comments to Susan Abraham’s blog, since she is misusing it to criticise Malaysian authors, and guess what? My comments were removed from her blog. We don’t need any brains to know why either, now do we?

So allow me to give Susan Abraham some simple advice. Critiquing a book calls for a study of various elements that go into it – plot, storyline, strength of characters, writing style, backdrop and yes, language too.

But Susan Abraham seems to believe that writing a book is all about language only. She cannot be blamed.

A failed writer like Susan Abraham would not know any better, so we shall forgive her utter stupidity and look beyond her delusions of self-invented fame (to borrow a phrase from her ).

So Eric, please do not allow your blog to be hijacked by the likes of this … err .. what was her name again? Abraam Susan or something like that was it?

Roderick Mann
London

Wednesday, April 20, 2005 4:17:00 AM  
Blogger Susan Day-Black said...

Dear Eric,

My name is Suzanne Day-Black. I am a missionary doing evangelical work amongst the unreached people groups in Hyderabad and Kerala, South India.

Recently, I visited a Christian bookstore here and picked up a romance novel by Malaysian-born author, Shoba Mano, called Love's Treacherous Terrain.

I am told that this novel is a best-seller in India, and I found it very interesting and rather unusual for a Christian romance.

What impressed me even more was that the storyline is rather bold for a novel that is being used in India as an evangelical tool.

I'm not sure if you are aware, but most missionaries (myself included) generally discourage people from reading romances because of the explicit nature of the language and content.

In recent years, Christian romances have come onboard to fill the need for wholesome and tastefully written novels that we can bravely recommend to teenage and adult audiences, be they Christians or not.

However, most romance novels in this genre have been written down to an extent that love comes across as boring, rather than an experience that flutters the heart. And that is why I say that Shoba Mano's novel is rather bold.

She has managed to tackle a subject such as love within a very romantic Malaysian storyline. Sadly, I could not find any other books from this same author and did an online search of her name, which is how I came across your blog.

Like the other writer on your blog, scribe, I too am rather shocked at the language and visciousness with which Susan Abraham had attacked and put down Love's Treacherous Terrain. (I shall not comment on Banana Leaf Men as I have not read it.)

I believe Susan was thoroughly misguided in her comments on Love's Treacherous Terrain, and ought to be far more responsible when writing something that appears on the world wide web.

Now, her unfounded and totally irresponsible comments are there for all to see. And those, like me, who have read Shoba Mano's novel will know that Susan Abraham's comments are such utter rubbish.

Love's Treacherous Terrain is a very entertaining novel and I dare say that scribe was absolutely correct in adding that it's not a book one can put down as I kept reading page after page well into the wee hours of the morning.

I wouldn't go as far as to say that it's a Pulitzer Prize winner, but it certainly is a great book and I will recommend it to all avid romance readers.

As for Susan Abraham, I too am wondering what her agenda is. Why is she "tomenting" Malaysian authors? Is she, as scribe repeatedly says, a failed writer who is upset that others have made it while she couldn't?

Whatever her reasons are for putting down Malaysian authors, let's hope Susan Abraham realises that it's time she took a good hard look at herself and realised she has emotional issues which needs to be addressed.

I'll be more than happy to counsel Susan if she'll please contact me to speak about her frustrations. Please forward to her my e-mail address and I'll be more than happy to chat with her.

Alternatively, I'll be just as happy to put her in touch with my church in UK (where I believe she resides) so that she can get more personal assistance to help her overcome her emotional problems.

As a Christian, it is my duty to help Susan Abraham overcome her emotional problems and frustrations and I will consider it a blessing to be able to do so.

Pastor Suzanne Day-Black,
Christ Revival Church
C.P. Ramasamy Road,
Hyderabad 600422
South India

Friday, June 24, 2005 12:03:00 AM  
Blogger Susheel Danya said...

Hi,

Just wanted to comment that Pastor Suzanne Day-Black is mistaken. There are loads of stuff on the Internet about Shoba Mano and her latest work, Prodigal Child.

One item I recently read said Shoba Mano was leaving for New York to attend the New York Book Exhibition to officially launch Prodigal Child.

There are also reviews at Romance Ever After and Coffeetime Romance websites.

All the reviews indicate that Shoba Mano has written another brilliant romance. By the way, I have read her maiden effort, Love's Treacherous Terrain, and believe it is a terrific romance novel!!

I also agree with both the bloggers, scribe and Suzanne Day-Black that this Susan Abraham lady certainly does not know what she is talking about.

I'm guessing she read some other book as she is not even able to correctly recall the name of Shoba Mano's novel.

... unless of course, like scribe and Pastor Suzanne Day-Black say, Susan Abraham is an emotional cripple and a failed writer with an agenda of her own.

So go on pastor, give her your two cents worth. Maybe you just might be able to save her soul. Lol!!

Susheel Danya
Hyderabad,
India

Thursday, June 30, 2005 1:41:00 AM  
Blogger Justine said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 1:54:00 AM  
Blogger Justine said...

Hey,

What's all this controversy about Shoba Mano and her novels? Guys, get a life and just do a search on the Internet. She's making waves in the US with her latest novel Prodigal Child. So who cares what one failed writer has to say? The American public loves her, and that's what counts, ain't it?

Justine Oaks
Nebraska, US

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 1:55:00 AM  
Blogger Susan Abraham said...

Susan day-black,
It's quite funny that even my most honest comment would require counselling.
Oh no, Susan day-black, you'll have to collect your medals for heaven in some other way.
The self-righteous and preachy are not my style.
I'm very happy being the misguided me.
Bye!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006 2:59:00 AM  

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