Sunday, August 12, 2007

Celebrating Mr. Eng from Penarth

At least Starmag noticed we had a Malaysian on the Booker longlist! They reproduced the piece from the Guardian I linked to the other day and slipped into brackets an e-mail response from Tan Twan Eng:
It's an immense honour for a first-time novelist ... I received the news on Tuesday night and was completely stunned - I still am! I am thrilled to be in such esteemed company like McEwan and A.N.Wilson.

I'm also gratified that the judges are open to voices coming from South-East Asia. There is a huge pool of talented writers here waiting to be discovered by the rest of the world, with compelling stories to tell.
Meanwhile it's Booker silly season, and this year, thanks to Twan we feel we have a ringside seat.

Sam Jordison on the Guardian blog has decided to discuss one book from the list each week working down the list in alphabetical order, even though that means the final book will be discussed long after the prize is awarded!

Of course, given a name like Tan Twan Eng, of course the surname must be Eng (!), and therefore The Gift of Rain gets discussed in week 4!

(I remember Viz getting all humpfy in the comments on this blog one day about Malaysian Chinese authors switching round their names so the family name comes last e.g. Tinling Choong, Yang-May Ooi, but now you see how confused a western audience can be!)

This is not the only Chinese name that gives problems on the list: Sam Jordison finds Peter Ho Davies middle name "rather amusing" as he has a go at judging the longlisted books by their covers. Of The Gift of Rain he says:
I'm not sure what the butterflies and torn bits of wallpaper signify, and the red and gold type has unfortunate echoes of a cheap Chinese restaurant. All the same, the back-cover blurb about aikido and knowledge coming "at a terrible price" sounds exciting and I'm already biased in the book's favour as it's a product of one of the two independent publisher underdogs on the list.
(My favourite covers, by the way, are those for Lloyd Jones' Mr. Pip and Peter Ho Davies The Welsh Girl.)

And talking of Wales, did you know that The Gift of Rain is actually set ... ahem ... in Penarth?

Our Mr. Eng is learning exciting new things about his novel all the time!


Giant Sotong said...

As a fellow Penarthian, I am most joyous in Mr Tan's nomination for the Booker Prize.

Penarth is a beautiful island: penarth trees (that's how the place is named) swaying by the pristine beaches, herds of mooze grazing in open verdant fields and friendly natives indulging in quaint pastimes like gribbitch, quimm and kloo.

There's also a very nice bridge linking the island to the mainland, and we're planning to build another one.

Come visit sometime!

Poppadumdum said...

He should start speaking with a Welsh accent... :-)

Anonymous said...

Isn't the cover of The Welsh Girl fabulous? He had some choice in the matter -- there was one cover that featured the sheep much more prominently -- but he said having the sheep right on the cover looking at the reader made it seem like the sheep *was* the Welsh Girl of the title :-). I think he made the perfect choice. Now I must check out the cover of Mr. Pip -- I really enjoy checking out book covers, actually!

bibliobibuli said...

i will, sotong. i want to see all of those penrith sheep wandering along batu ferringhi and stop for leek kueh teoh.

he probably will, poppadumdum, he'll be that confused by the time this dog and pony show is over

anon - it looks like an old british railway poster. will be pretty desperate if i can't get my hands on a copy in a day or two!

animah said...

Penarth is famous for Candour Rice. It can leave you quite high.

animah said...

Luxor Penarth is my favourite. So is Luxor Sarawath and Luxor Johorth.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Sharon, Anon was me above -- I didn't mean to leave my post unsigned! An old British railway posted -- that sounds very evocative. I love those old posters. I'm assuming you're talking about the British edition of Mr. Pip -- I'll look out for it.

- Preeta

bibliobibuli said...

no the other way round preeta, peter's book cover looks like a railway poster. mr pip is a lovely bright cover. am frustrated that it is not possible to buy the books here right away as i need to get some read for a piece for the star. must go nag the bookshops.

Poppadumdum said...

Sad to hear you have to look for Welsh Girl. I have a proof copy but my friend is reading it (at the same time as Gift of Rain).

Penarthy kick - one of the football terms? :-)

bibliobibuli said...

i gotta call abby at kino, the only person who can help me out of this hole. i was asked if i would read and review the whole lot of them for the star before the shortlist comes out!

Anonymous said...

Oh! Then the cover must be different on the British edition. The Houghton-Mifflin edition has a landscape set against a backdrop of a soldier's uniform. Hard to explain but it's on I'm distressed, anyway, that all these books are so difficult to find in Malaysia -- never mind the price, but that they're not on the shelves *at all* is upsetting!

animah said...

I printed the list and trailed around Kino last Friday. Only found the McEwan (v expensive) Mr Eng's (20% discount) and hidden in the Asian section one copy of The Reluctant Fundamentalist (expensive) which I snapped up to pass to Sharon.
The best Luxor Penarth in the whole world can be found on the west coast of Penarth, in the market of a little fisherman's village called Block Pillau.