Sunday, October 22, 2006

Adibah in English

It's good news indeed that Adibah Amin's first novel in English will be in the bookshops in a week or two, and quite wonderful that there are interviews with her today both in Starmag and the Sunday People section of the Sunday Times. I used to love her column As I Was Passing in the New Straits Times written under the pen name Sri Delima. I treasured a second-hand copy of the book in which the earliest columns were compiled - she wrote with such humanity and charm. (A student borrowed and never returned the copy, and I still miss it. I am much consoled to know that the book will soon be reissued.)

Her translation of Shahnon Ahmad's Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan as No Harvest But a Thorn was my first introduction to Malay literature. I read it within a couple of weeks of arriving here in 1984, and I was later deeply disappointed to find that nothing else in translation measured up. (The translation was published only once - by Oxford University Press in Australia in 1972. It hit the best seller list there, but has since been allowed to disappear and the only copies you will find now are second-hand ones.)

This End of the Rainbow, Adibah's English novel is based on her experiences as a student at the University of Malaya in the 1950s, although she deneies it is autobiographical. She says finally completed the final draft, after more than 50 years of working on it in fits and starts! She has, though, written three novels in Malay.

I liked her advice to local writers in Daphne Lee's interview with her in Starmag:
“I wish more people would write. I think there are those who have talent but just don’t know it and don’t develop it.” ... Her advice for young writers is to “live a lot, read a lot but don’t be influenced by others’ styles, mix with lots of people, observe all the time. And don’t tear up your efforts.” ... She also stresses the importance of developing a “thick hide” as being discouraged by criticism is a huge stumbling block in this line. “I do feel though that, ultimately, it’s not up to you to say if you have talent. It’s up to the public.”


Chet said...

Last Sunday, I bought my first copy of The Sunday Star in a long time (I was keeping mother company and needed something to read while she slept), and was well rewarded with this piece of good news about the release of Adibah Ami's first English novel. I'm looking forrward to it very much.

Anonymous said...

Someone else wishing more people would write. The cat really does need belling, doesn't it. :)

bibliobibuli said...

chet - me too

anon - that cat again?

Anonymous said...

Yes that cat again. The whole world seems to want that cat belled good and proper. And yet... :)