Sunday, November 04, 2007

New Home and News from Home

Silverfish is moving - but to just around the block: the new address is 58-1 Jalan Telawi, Bangsar Baru (above pet shop and next to DHL), and to mark the occasion there will be a small opening cum Deepavali party on Saturday 17th November at 5 p.m..

The new anthology, News from Home, by Raman's protogees (Chua Kok Yee, Kow Shih-Li, Rumaizah Abu Bakar) will also be launched.

Raman adds an interesting footnote in this entry:
Malaysian literature in English series

News from home will be the first book to carry this sticker (though) we may decide to put it on some of our previous books that we think qualify - Lloyd Fernando, Salleh ben Joned, Huzir Sulaiman and some others surely will). So what is Malaysian literature in English.? The English part is clear enough. So what is Malaysian? Should the author(s) be Malaysian? No, we think not. It could be anyone who lives in or who has lived in Malaysia and has a unique perspective of what we are all about (besides the tourism brochure saccharine sweet bullshit and the whingy-whiny, angsty, everything-sucks crap). And that pretty much will define the word literature as well. Good stories well told, in a nutshell. Good poetry, good plays, good fiction and good travel writing is what we will be looking for. But if you are Malaysian and you write about Beverley Hills or Manhattan with no experience of either, I guess you will not be part of the series, lor. We will not publish you anyway. But then, maybe, others will.
(My emphasis.) So does this mean that writers are supposed to only write about what they know?

DBC Pierre won the Booker with a novel set in an American he hadn't visited ... Stef Penney had never been to Canada but won the Costa this year with a novel set in its frozen wastes. The examples are numerous so I'm sure you can add to the list.

And it goes without saying that authors of historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy cannot possibly visit the places they describe in their books.

Why set an artificial limit on what can or can't be written about? The only criteria, surely, is that the fiction must convince the reader!


Madcap Machinist said...

Why so obnoxious one?

BTW, "protogees" is a nice word, but I think a better one exists ;-)

...and "a novel set in an American he he hadn't visited" ... what a rich fantasy life he must have!

Amir said...

Raman! Having been there, I have the right to confirm it's spelled Beverly Hills. Mwahaha!

Anonymous said...

So this is "literature according to Raman", right? It reeks of pretentiousness and wanking is what.

Glenda Larke said...

Ah, Sharon - didn't you know? - it is impossible for a fantasy novel to be literature! By definition, it is crap. SF might scrape in (as long as the author denies strongly that s/he writes SF) but fantasy never makes the cut. Oh, that's unless you call it "Magical realism" or "mystical surrealism" or some other such crap.

Ask Raman if you don't believe me...

Anonymous said...

Indeed, Raman has his own notions of what should or should not be called literature. Why, this one time, he snootily declared, "Thrillers are childish!"

When I began pointing out literary thrillers such as Heart of Darkness and Deliverance to him, he cut me off by insisting that they weren't thrillers at all. He then swiveled his chair and sat with his back to me.

How odd.

For someone who claims to champion postcolonial literature, Raman is the very picture of colonial-era smugness.

Anonymous said...

Raman is just being a Scrooge.

Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage is an excellent example of an author writing about events he neither saw nor experienced. But surprise, surprise, it turned out to be one of the best books about the horrors of war.

Anonymous said...

Well, doesn't much matter. If you want to get published by Silverfish, you have to play by its rules. It is elitist that way.

bibliobibuli said...

well every publisher will have to decide what they do and don't want to publish. as raman says, other publishers will of course have different criteria.