Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Date with Fate

Gift of Rain author Tan Twan Eng is in the UK at the moment to promote the book. You can listen to him talk about the book on Ian Macmillan's literary radio programme The Verb on BBC Radio 3.

Are there too many novels set during the Second World War (as some have alleged)? Why aren't there many Malaysian novelists? Does the author believe in predestination?

Have a listen to the programme and find out.


Anonymous said...

Are there too many novels set during the Second World War?

YES THERE ARE! hello, frenz, lets write about something else pls!

"Mr Can O' Worms" Viz

bibliobibuli said...

since you are the one screaming about everyone else's setting and them YOU get writing Viz!!

Anonymous said...

like i said in a previous comment, just becos i could never be president of the US doesnt mean i cannot criticise George Bush, riiiiiight?

Viz On A Scandal

bibliobibuli said...

yeah i replied to that in the earlier post too. go see!

enar arshad said...

there are not TOO many WWIInovels.just read joseph kanon's the good german.i wonder if there is any WWII bookfrom by the japanese?

sympozium said...

If one doesn't like WW2 novels, one need not read them.
And there aren't TOO MANY WW2 novels set in Singapore /Malaya: Offhand I can name only the following:

1. Tanamera - Noel Barber
2. Breaking The Tongue - Vyvyane Loh
3. The Singapore Grip - JG Farrell
4. The Gift of Rain - Tan Twan Eng

bibliobibuli said...

and "once upon a time in malaya" - Chong Seck Chim

well said, anyway

enar - hello, distant relative! nice to see you saturday

animah said...

Enar, There is a scene from Murakami's Wind Up Bird Chronicle that haunts me. It is the tale of an old man who was a Japanese soldier in Mongolia during WWII. It's chilling.
Visitor, writers write what they need to write. If it means the Japanese Occupation, then so be it. There must be something about that period - the changes, the uncertainty and the sheer horror of life then that must have moved these writers.
Also remember the regime we live under now. It is hard to write the truth of Malaysia today without being subject to censorship, questioning, perhaps even being locked away. So much easier to write about today's truth and hide in a story of the past, don't you think. Tan and Tash are lawyers too - perhaps they know something.
Some of the world's greatest storytellers have done just that. Aesop, Shakespeare, Brecht, Marquez, Kundera, Borges.
So to Tan, Tash and all other Malaysian writers who gravitate to the past - carry on.

Anonymous said...

"It is hard to write the truth of Malaysia today without being subject to censorship, questioning, perhaps even being locked away"

It's only the people that are not in the country that say things like this. I'd love to discuss this with you sometime, and maybe find out why people say things like this.

Kak Teh said...

thanks for the info Sharon.Am meeting him Friday and i think he is off to Cambridge today.

enar arshad said...

i agree with u animah..and sharon nice meeting u too.small world indeed eh?

Argus Lou said...

Animah, you've said it well.
Previously my knee-jerk reaction was that there were enough books based on WW2.
Now I think it doesn't matter. The themes and focus are different. I loved that Tan Twan Eng wrote about aikido and its principles, isolation and alienation, sense of duty versus enduring love, past lives and living fully in the present, and choices versus predestination.

'The Gift of Rain' is so different from 'Harmony Silk Factory', and both are valuable and enjoyable.
I eagerly await Tash's 2nd novel.

Tunku Halim said...

I'm looking forward to reading Gift of Rain, WWII or not!

Are there any novels about the Emergency? How about the Confrontation? Perhaps setting a novel on 13 May might be too sensitive? There could be a tale set on the eve of independence.

There's so much to mine here, really!

bibliobibuli said...

tan twan eng's second novel is set during the emergency, apparently. i would love to read 13 may novel, but would it be politically too sensitive?? see this is what happens in a society where so much is censored ... you begin to censor out some of the possibilities yourself.

anon - whichever anon you are - sure! but i've written quite a lot about banned books and censorship on this blog, and it is going to continue to be something that haunt authors ... the overseas published can carve themselves more freedom though

Kak Teh said...

sharon, tumpang lalu,
Tunku, there are many books on the emergency, especially written by ex british servicemen. I have a few. One is The Jungle Beat by Roy Follows, Destiny Malaya by Peter Stock, Fools Gold by Frederick Lees. Ive met Roy Follows and Peter Stock and am meeting Fred Lees soon.

bibliobibuli said...

these books are v. necessary and invaluable and i'd love to read them

but novels set during the emergency by a malaysian novelist??? zilch. tan twan eng's will i think be the first

locally produced non-fiction books/ films (amir muhammad's) exploring this territory have been banned/restricted

so this is in a sense the real-post colonial literature! local authors exploring the territory only hitherto claimed by the brits

give fred my love when you see him, kak teh ... and also jean and barry floyd if you see them (i guess you must be going down to rye) and please bug fred to write about his memories of kl - we could do with his reminiscences (or kak teh - record him!!!)

it would be nice to see the other parts of fred's novels in print but "fool's gold" just didn't sell (which is why we all got copies in our goody bags at the kl litfest) ... he really should go with a print-on-demand website

time's running out for some of these fascinating older people who hold so much of malaya's/malaysia's history

Kak Teh said...

I'll be doing fred like i did peggy taylor. so, hopefully you'll see him on telly. I will certainly convey yr message. Yes, he is in Rye and very near peggy taylor in fact am meeting peggy again tomorrow as she is coming down to london and i will be doing some secretarial work for her..hehe!

Yes, I agree, we do need malaysian writers to be writing about this pase in our history. You're right time is running out for some of these fascinating older people. why do you think i am running after them?

bibliobibuli said...

i know i know, kak teh, and you're my heroine for doing so! please do contact jean and barry (they are friends of fred, live close by and have lived here for many year)

enar arshad said...

it seems now our history will only be acknowledge as our history if it is inline with what the leaders think should be our history.my hometown is renown for having fighters....(not politically correct tho) but nothing is done to acknowledge their part in our country's history.and we have malaysians going overseas visiting tunnels...camps etc.

bibliobibuli said...

so maybe YOU have a book to write, enar!

Anonymous said...

An artist friend told me about ex-MCP members who are now farmers who run little tours of former communist hideouts and camps up in "some hills" in Selangor (and maybe Perak).
Isn't that fascinating?

Paranoid Anon

bibliobibuli said...

paranoid anon - sounds fascinaing - a tour i'd love to do

enar arshad said...

i will go with u for the tour.maybe i write the book and make buntut pulau famous!

Chet said...

And I will be cheering you on, Enar!