Thursday, January 18, 2007


HERE ARE A COUPLE OF BOOKS, amongst others, I have edited, am working on or developing at the moment. All of them highlight some of the best in Malaysian writing. Quite a frothy brew of genres: there’s anecdotal humour, more anecdotal humour, a couple of kids’ stuff, a collection of literary ghost stories and a personal history.

The Desperate Housewife of Klang
Lydia Teh’s Honk! If You’re Malaysian (MPH Publishing, January 2007) was successfully launched on December 16, 2006 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Congratulations to Lydia on completing her third book. With a pinch of wizardry, a spoonful of pizzazz, dashes of creativity and a whole lot of heart and humour, she has managed to write a compendium of stories that all Malaysians will relish with delight. (The illustrations by Hassan Bahri are excellent.) There’s an added bonus: an introduction by Adibah Amin. I believe you will enjoy reading her new book. I certainly did enjoy creating it. Lydia is now busy at work on her next book. And for those who have not read her work before, go take a peek at her second book, Life’s Like That: Scenes from Malaysian Life (Pelanduk Publications, 2004).

Kids’ Stuff
Daphne Lee and Amir Shah Amiruddin’s joint production of four children’s books will hit bookshops soon. A is for Anklet (MPH Publishing, February 2007), 1 Red Flower (MPH Publishing, February 2007), Sweet Pink Posies (MPH Publishing, February 2007) and If I Were a Star (MPH Publishing, February 2007) are all targetted at preschool toddlers. Watch out for Amir Shah’s watercolour illustrations: they are amazing! Indeed an illustrator to look out for in the future. In 1 Red Flower, a little girl goes walkabout in the city of Kuala Lumpur and gets up close and personal with a variety of fascinating objects. In A is for Anklet, kids discover that everything starts with a letter while Sweet Pink Posies looks at the colours that add to the richness of our lives. Learn to see shapes all around you in If I Were a Star. These books feature objects and scenes from Malaysian life and offer invaluable local reference points for Malaysian preschoolers.

The Mistress of Anecdotes
I’ve completed editing Adibah Amin’s As I Was Passing (MPH Publishing, March 2007) and As I Was Passing II (MPH Publishing, April 2007); both will be reissued and released simultaneously by MPH Publishing sometime in March 2007. However, I’m still giving both books the final touches. I enjoyed reading her columns in the New Straits Times as a teenager back in the 1970s and early 1980s, and felt the articles would still be enjoyable and meaningful for a contemporary readership. The new editions have been completely revised, rewritten and reedited. I’ve written an introduction by way of an appreciation for both the books. Hopefully, you’ll find it interesting. The covers are being conceptualised at the moment.

The Return of Malaysia’s Prince of Darkness
I’m also working on Tunku Halim’s “greatest hits,” so to speak. I’m tentatively calling it 44 Cemetery Road: The Best of Tunku Halim (MPH Publishing, May 2007). One of the three new stories in this collection of new and selected stories is “44 Cemetery Road.” I’ve just received the three new stories and am enjoying myself as I edit them. And I believe you will enjoy reading them too when they are ready. Look out for the collection when it makes its appearance sometime in April 2007!

Peeing in the Bush
I have recently acquired a nonfiction manuscript by Adeline Loh, a former journalist in Kuala Lumpur. Loh and her travel companion Chan abandon their urban lives to roam the remote death-at-every-turn wilderness of Southern Africa’s Zambia. In Peeing in the Bush: The Misadventures of Two Asian Girls in Zambia (MPH Publishing, July 2007), Loh recounts in a candid and humorous tone her fun and engaging misadventures in Zambia. Why Zambia? “Apart from having been inspired by what I’d seen and experienced, I wrote this travel tale because I was surprised at the number of people who haven’t a clue that such a place exists. Although it’s one of the world’s least explored nations, Zambia is as arresting as they come. And I think readers will enjoy getting to know the curious destination in a light-hearted way, especially through the refreshing eyes of first-time travellers to the Dark Continent, rather than the serious tone usually adopted by authors when describing Africa.” She writes about her travels in Zambia with a rich mix of anecdote, commentary and deft description.

Kuala Lumpur-based Dina Zaman’s I Am Muslim (Silverfish Books, March 2007), a collection of essays and political commentaries on the state of the Malaysian nation from the perspective of a modern Malay woman, will be launched sometime in late March 2007.

So who’ll be the next Malaysian to make his or her stamp on the world literary map. We’ve had Shirley Lim, Beth Yahp [The Crocodile Fury (1992)], Yang-May Ooi [The Flame Tree (1998) and Mindgame (2000)], Rani Manicka [The Rice Mother (2002) and Touching Earth (2004)], Vyvyane Loh [Breaking the Tongue (2004)] and Tash Aw [The Harmony Silk Factory (2005)] in quick succession. There are two new literary voices on the horizon: Tinling Choong with FireWife (Nan A. Talese, January 2007) and Tan Twan Eng with The Gift of Rain (Myrmidon, March 2007).

Born and bred in Penang, Malaysia, Choong received a Bachelor of Arts from Wellesley College, and is working towards her Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale University. FireWife is her publishing début. “FireWife,” according to the writer, “is a story of plight and hope, escape and desire, offering vignettes in the lives of eight Asian women: a photographer, six women she photographs, and a girl travelling in between lives.” Choong is presently working on a novel, Yuyu and the Banyan Tree, which will be published by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday in 2008.

The Gift of Rain (Myrmidon Books, March 2007) is a sumptuous epic set in Penang during the Japanese Occupation of Malaya. With lyrical narrative, replete with exotic and captivating images, sounds and aromas—of rainswept tropical beaches, remote mountain temples, pungent spice warehouses, opulent colonial ballrooms and fetid rainforests—Tan Twan Eng’s début novel tells a story of love, cruelty, betrayal and courage in times of unrest and turmoil. Penang-born Tan read law through the University of London, and later worked as an advocate and solicitor in one of Kuala Lumpur’s more reputable law firms. The Gift of Rain is a book that all Malaysians will be proud of.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric, Thanks for highlighting Honk! I look forward to the other books. Haha, I'm not sure if I can be termed a success, yet. Wait till the book goes into reprint a couple of times :)

Desperate Housewife from Klang signing off.

Sunday, December 17, 2006 12:50:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

Well, Lydia, there are two levels of success: success as a result of completing your book and having it published and success as a result of great sales. You have achieved the first level. Now's the second level you are confronting. Go for it, Lydia!

Sunday, December 17, 2006 2:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too bad they don't have it in

Sunday, December 17, 2006 6:14:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

It's available on though. Check it out!

Sunday, December 17, 2006 1:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric, it's wonderful to know that there are some good quality Malaysian writing on the way and that Lydia's book has been launched.

It is one thing to have Malaysia writings living and wrtiting overseas but it is even better to have them around.

Monday, December 18, 2006 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

We must develop Malaysian writing in all its various forms if we would like a thriving writing community to flourish in Malaysia. We are working against many obstacles: lack of reading among the general public, the quality of manuscripts, the onslaught of foreign writing that are most of the time of a superior quality compared to local writing, lack of editing skills, etc., etc. Besides these, you have to cope with bad food, bad lighting, bad ambience, bad eyesight, bad authors, rude authors, rebellious editors (or lack thereof), etc., etc. It is a miracle that we are able to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Monday, December 18, 2006 6:36:00 PM  
Blogger bibliobibuli said...

well done eric and thanks for the heads up on what's coming - glad daphne's books are coming out soon

Wednesday, December 20, 2006 4:44:00 PM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

Thanks a million, Sharon, for your support. Most of the time I have to move against the tide.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006 4:57:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home