Sunday, December 30, 2007

Celebrity Literatis!

Andrew Leci is interviewed by Anu Nathan in Starmag's ReadsMonthly supplement about his first novel Once Removed.

Now Andrew is a bloke I feel I know very well, even if I have never met him, because he's a sports anchor for ESPN and in our house, there's nowhere to run from the rugby matches on TV! (Let me tell you that I can hold my own in any conversation about the sport, but I actually only watch it for all the wrong reasons ... which I'm sure you can guess!)

Once Removed though, is far removed from the sports pitch and is the story of a British expat at large in Kuala Lumpur of the 1970's.
I am not going to be winning any Booker Prize for this one. I wanted to write something that would maybe provoke thought about the way we see expats and the way expats see us ...
And as Anu points out he seems:
... blithely oblivious to the fact that, in many eyes, he’s an expat himself ...
But actually, I must interject, this is what does happens to us long-term mat-sallehs!
I didn’t want it to be an expat book but it sort of turned out that way. Yes, it does reinforce a stereotype. But I think the whole point is that you have to question those stereotypes.... That’s what makes it interesting.
(Rehman Rashid's reviews the book today in the NST.)

I must say that I find it a little strange that Marshall Cavendish (after having tumbled to the fact that coverage on local blogs were the main factor behind the initial boom in sales of Kam Raslan's book Confessions of an Old Boy) haven't made a conscious effort to harness blog-power when promoting other books!

Send out at least a press-kit at least (and a copy of the book would be nice!). Make sure that you have a website set up to promote the book! (Raman of Silverfish and Philip Tatham of Monsoon Books are a lot more clued up!!)

Anyway, elsewhere in ReadsMonthly there is some other much good stuff. Award-winning filmmaker Yasmin Ahmad writes about a favourite book: Rumi's Bridge to the Soul. This I think is beautifully said and delightfully disingenious:
This year, 2007, marks Rumi’s 800th birthday. The motley entourage that gathered on the day of his funeral indicates the sort of pluralism that is now frowned upon by certain quarters. Me, I’m too ignorant to take sides here. There are mighty arguments for and against pluralism, no doubt, and the proponents of each will present a seemingly airtight case. And yet, all it takes is one tiny pin prick, does it not, for us to be able to breathe again?
(I'm amazed and delighted to see that Yasmin has 5,000 books at home!)

Ted reviews of Clive Barker's Mister B. Gone, and Martin Spice is kinder to John Berendt's City of Falling Angels (now in paperback) than I felt like being.


GUO SHAO-HUA said...

got a message from Yasmin this afternoon. some smart editor added "Persian poet" next to Rumi's name when Rumi is actually Afghan.

btw, Atonement is still playing in my head. brilliant film. must see it again.

then must start reading every McEwan.

bibliobibuli said...

that poor ed has been pretty ill all week and struggled on working christmas day even, on strong painkillers.

rumi, you can tell yasmin, WAS persian. even though he was born in balkh which is NOW in afghanistan, this was part of the greater persian empire at the time. and he wrote, of course, in persian.

Anonymous said...

At least we don't see the use of the words "quip", "quips" or "quipped" that the Star writers/editors so love to use.

Obiter Dictum said...

Born in what is Afghanistan today, died in what is Turkey, Rumi will always remain a Persian Poet. The headline is correct I believe, he was a Persian poet, not Iranian, after all he wrote in Farsi.

A fragment of his poem comes to mind, it went something like:

... if you have love in your heart everyone will call you theirs...

GUO SHAO-HUA said...

if you were born in Malaya during British colonial rule, and you wrote poetry in English, you wouldn't be an English poet, would you?

bibliobibuli said...

you couldn't call yourself a malaysian poet either 'cos the country didn't exist. well, by the same token, there wasn't a country named afghanistan when rumi was around.

actually if he were born today wouldn't he be considered as being from tajikistan?

wtf does any of this matter? it becomes a game of trying to catch people out and i think obiter dictum has given the only answer worth giving

GUO SHAO-HUA said...

it might not matter as Rumi probably didn't care much for geographical boundaries anyway.

but i'm just disputing the much too simplistic argument that since he wrote in Farsi, it made him a Persian. or since it was known as Balkh back then, it was a whole different locale.

that's all.

bibliobibuli said...

ok, here's a bit of ammo for your side of the argument.

scottish authors getting mad at being classified as english writers!

bibliobibuli said...

btw - can lend you the mcewans. got many if not most of them.

GUO SHAO-HUA said...

kick ass!

Anonymous said...

Scotland is still a part of the UK right ? so I guess they can still be called "British" writers ? :)