Friday, May 06, 2005


Tash Aw
Fourth Estate (2005)

ANOTHER first novel worth exploring is Malaysian Tash Aw's The Harmony Silk Factory (2005), a sprawling, richly woven World War II saga set in the Kinta Valley of Japanese-occupied and Communist-infested Malaya. A colourful, emotionally engaging and riveting story told in lucid, uncluttered prose through a patchwork of narrative strands. Donald Morrison in Time magazine writes: “Malaysia is a land rich in farmers, civil servants and electronics assembly workers, but poor in novelists. That's an odd deficit, given the country's high levels of literacy, prosperity and anxiety, as well as an abundance of history, politics, ethnic tension and other delicate topics that can be used as material. All of which makes Tash Aw's début novel worthy of close inspection. ... Malaysians looking for insights into their country's modern condition may be disappointed. Other readers may find themselves enjoyably lost in a land of magic and mayhem.” What a pleasure it is to read such a remarkably accomplished and promising début! A tangled tale that displays intermittent flashes of luminosity.

AW Tash [1972-] Malaysian novelist. Born Aw Ta-Shii in Taipei, Taiwan. NOVEL The Harmony Silk Factory (2005: longlisted for the 2005 Booker Prize for Fiction)


Blogger Susan Abraham said...

Hi Eric,
Pity that being all the way here in London, I've missed Time Asia's article on Tash Aw.
I really think that first we have to cultivate a love for words, reading and books before we hope to produce writers of 'great stuff'. We have to literally work bloody hard at our craft and I have to again stress that I truly feel sad as so few Malaysians - who see themselves even as actively involved in the Arts - understand this simple philosophy.
Hope you are keeping well and do keep up too, with your love for books and your excellent posts.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005 4:05:00 AM  

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