Sunday, July 01, 2007

Hong Kong On Air

Well I'm a proud editor today!

Do you remember the collection of Silverfish short stories Collateral Damage which I put together some time back? Do you remember the long extract from AM Asia, set in a Hong Kong radio station just before the handover? I loved the humour and the pace of the piece and wondered how it was going to develop.

Muhammad Cohen (left) wrote to tell me that his novel in progress is at last a novel in reality and just published by Blacksmith Books. Here's the blurb about Hong Kong on Air:
As the Hong Kong handover boom fizzles into the Asian economic bust, a young American couple's marriage and careers tumble into a maze of television news, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie.

TV news veteran Muhammad Cohen's engaging, often hilarious novel captures the mood ahead of the July 1, 1997 handover when Hong Kong reigned as the centre of the universe, a multicultural melting pot bubbling with pure gold. As the Asian crisis abruptly ends the party, mainland China emerges, eclipsing Hong Kong. For everyone whose job or business falls under China's lengthening economic shadow, Hong Kong On Air presents a fresh angle on how it all began. For media watchers, Hong Kong On Air broadcasts the backstage secrets of television news the way The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay illustrated the dark side of comic books.

For newspaper reporter turned TV producer Laura Wellesley, the morning show at Franklin Global Networks Asia means going to bed before dark and swallowing the first rule of broadcast news: the anchor is always right, especially when it's American-born Chinese egomaniac Deng Jiang Mao. The station's fortunes and Laura's outlook improve with the arrival of Peter Franklin, the 28-year-old son of FGN's billionaire founder. But Franklin's eye falls on mainland-born graphics drone Pussy, Laura's control room nemesis, and a butterfly emerges from the web he spins.

For Laura's husband Jeff Golden, the production line for his Golden Beauties lingerie runs through a cagey mother minding their stores on Long Island, cookie tins stuffed with cash smuggled over the border, and hot tubs in Hong Kong's Jewish Community Club and mainland brothels. Cut out of his own multi-million dollar deal, Jeff's consolation prize is Yogi, a Japanese banker with a yen for "Jew food" and men raised on it.

During Hong Kong's pre-handover boom, FGN Asia becomes a hit, a star is born, and mistakes are easy to overlook. But the economic crisis ripens relationships for treachery, creates opportunities for revenge, and moves China centre stage, triggering a great leap forward for some, a long march to failure for others.
The book will be launched in Hong Kong this August and in Bali at the Ubud Writers and Readers festival. The book can also be shipped for free.


Amir Muhammad said...

Muhammad Cohen has such an intriguing name!

The two words almost sound like one of those short-short stories.

He also wrote this highly critical piece about Malaysian tourism.

Unless, of course, there are two writers with the same name. But I doubt it.

bibliobibuli said...

same person, amir

yes, the name is interesting ... he wrote under a different pseudonym previously

Unknown said...

This is a great piece of news! Congrats to the author and the discerning editor!

Anonymous said...


Poppadumdum said...

The name is a combination of Muslim and Jewish names, isn't it?

bibliobibuli said...

tis indeed papadumdum, he is jewish american, must be a convert and lives in bali.

Anonymous said...

why must the villain be a "Chinese egomaniac"?


bibliobibuli said...

would you have been upset if it was an indian egomaniac or a british egomaniac (like me)?

i reckon this is one reason why no-one wants to write the great malaysian novel. once you have to have a baddy what race do you make him/her?

Unknown said...

I echo your sentiments Sharon. Journalism in Malaysia is controlled to the extent that we are not allowed to mention the race of a perpetrator of a crime. We are a nation that protects, protects and protects. Hence we have molly-coddled citizens.
But it is not something limited to Malaysia, I feel. I remember old Hindhi shows from my childhood, where immorality was often shown as Mat Sallehs dancing away in night clubs in their bikinis - hahahahahhaha.

I would like to think that as people of Malaysia, we have progressed and we can see beyond any race or religion and as individuals.

Anonymous said...

i would feel the same if it was any other race. the story involves Mat Sallehs, then suddenly in the middle of it all is a Chinese egomaniac. thats why i brought up the point.

but then we'll have to read the book to see what it 's all really about, won't we?


Anonymous said...

Muhammad Cohen an interesting name ? actually most writers have interesting names, Amir Thilagadurai, Tiara Thariq, Bernice Chauly -- you'd have never guessed their last/surnames if you just had the given/first names.

bibliobibuli said...

viz - probably a valid point. we'll read the book and see, right?

anon - it's probably not coincidence entirely. to have a funnily unmatched names means you live between two cultures. when you live between two cultures, you have to negotiate who you are and you see both cultures perhaps more clearly. these qualities push you to write.

Anonymous said...

That's true isn't it ? people write because they're sort of stuck, and need to make sense of who they are and what they do, they don't have a ready-made stereotype to conform to.

And I can't believe I left Sharon Bakar out of the list.