I write so often about Silverfish because Raman is the superhero of the book-centric world: the universe knows no peer! Truly.
Raman moved into publishing in 2000. Revitalised the Malaysian short story in English, long neglected, with his New Writing series. Gave the wannabe-published something to live for. (Which reminds me, the deadline for the next anthology is end March and even those of you who read this blog from the otherside of Pluto can send in stories.) Published books by other local writers. Is perhaps the best person to send a manuscript too if you need a second opinion, though he won't mince words if he thinks it's rubbish. (I do respect his opinions even if I don't always agree with them.) Runs an editing service.
Raman also started up the KL International Literary Festival, something that was badly needed in this corner of the globe. (The next festival is glinting in Mr. Raman's eye even as I type this. I seriously better run and hide.) Now he has started up a literary mag. Is there no end?
As a bookshop, it must be admitted, Silverfish is a little run-down, extremely eccentric. (Like it's owner?)
It might be my bad luck but the shoe-mender from the street below always seems to be changing his clothes on the stairs. (He uses the switch-box as his personal locker.) I've stopped apologising for invading his privacy.
Raman's recently partioned off the back room, and now has a space for readings, classes, meetings. He's custodian of a large private library of antiquarian books about this part of the world, and you can sit and read them as long as you like.
The best thing about the shop is that it operates as a meeting place for all kinds of interesting people.Peter Carey and VS Naipaul have browsed the shelves. You might bump into an ambassador or a BBC correspondent or a famous poet or a publishing rep or just another booklover or fictionating scribbler like yourself. Hang out here. Make yourself a cup of tea. Relax.
A woman recently wrote to Raman all the way from Australia to express her concern about the name of the shop. Did Mr. Raman know that Silverfish ate books?
(The one and only silverfish that turned up in Mr. Raman's office one day was treated with the great reverence that befits a mascot.)