Thursday, December 27, 2007

It Really Is Time for a Tiger!

Something that I've wanted to happen for a long time is going to happen on January 14th, and perhaps you would like to be part of it?

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you will know that have posted several times about British author Anthony Burgess (real name John Burgess Wilson) who was a teacher at the Malay College in Kuala Kangsar in the 1950's.

Something that made me sad when I taught there in the 1980's was that no-one on the staff, and none of the students knew anything about him or had read his books. Burgess' first novel, Time for a Tiger (the first part of The Malayan Trilogy) was set in Kuala Kangsar and the town is also mentioned in Earthly Powers, considered to be one of the most important literary works of the last century.

Many of the old boys of Malay College remember Mr. Wilson with fondness, even if not all of them were aware that he was later a famous author. (My husband, Abu, did not make the connection that his Worsley-driving hostel master with the pretty wife was Wilson/Burgess until just a year or two ago!)

We are just bit late with our fiftieth anniversary celebration of the publication of Time for a Tiger (published 1956), but well, never mind!

Several things have come together:

First, meeting Rob Spence via this blog and persuading him (it wasn't hard!) to come to Malaysia to talk on Burgess.

Rob is a Mancunian like Burgess, brought up in the same district of Manchester (though some years later!). Currently he’s Associate Head of Department. English and History at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, Lancs.

Burgess was the subject of his PhD thesis, and he is planning to write a book on the author. He has published articles on various modern and contemporary writers including Robert Nye, George Mackay Brown, Penelope Fitzgerald and Jane Rogers, and has a book on Louis de Bernieres forthcoming.

Secondly, Professor Lim Chee Seng of University Malaya who made is possible for Rob to come. (Rob will also be giving a lecture there.)

Thirdly, the wonderful wonderful guys in MCOBA, in particular Mustapha Bakar, who took my sketchy idea and ran with it. I think that this will be a really interesting evening!

This then is the event:
Time for a Tiger
(A tribute to Anthony Burgess)

Date: 14 January

Venue: Wisma Sejarah, Jalan Tun Razak. Just before National Library if from Jln Pahang (Map)

Admission: Free or small charge (we are currently trying to get sponsorship) but by invitation only as places are limited due to size of the hall. Please contact me by email if you would like to attend. (

Tentative Programme :

7.45 pm Cocktail

8.15 pm Opening Address by President of MCOBA

8.30 pm Introduction of Speaker by Sharon Bakar

8.40 pm Address by speaker Rob Spence.

9.30 pm Q & A and discussion

10.15 pm Supper and networking
Update (30/12):

The response for this has been fantastic (much more than I could have anticipated!) and I have now filled the seats I have available. I have replied to those people whose names are definitely on the list. Very many thanks!


Greenbottle said...

oh dear, would love to come to this one but i'm in new delhi on this date.

but currently reading his 'little wilson big god' and i must say it's one of the best autobiographies i've read in years...

anybody who , like him at six years old screamed at his visitors "bugger off , you buggers" had to turn out to be an interesting guy...

bibliobibuli said...

i love "little wilson and big god"

abu was one of the little boys who cried at night missing their mothers and (according to burgess) pissed off the balcony

Rob Spence said...

Thanks for all your work on this Sharon. I'm really looking forward to this event, and my trip to Malaysia generally.
Readers of the autobiography will know that AB chose the title Time for a Tiger for his first novel in the hope that the beer company would send him lots of its product in gratitude for using its slogan. They didn't.

bibliobibuli said...

hi rob. everyone is going to turn up just to see your moustache, y'know!

what's been great is the wave of nostalgia that the news of this event seems to have created. someone has dug up a song that burgess composed for the school and we may well get to hear it performed for the first time in 50 years. and there are some interesting stories coming out on the malay college e-group which a friend has been forwarding to me.

mustapha says that this might be the start of mcoba literary events and that would be nice.

what a shame you are only staying a few days ...

Rob Spence said...

Hi Sharon
I sent a reply before which didn't turn up, so here goes again. The song discovery sounds very interesting. There is a lot of Burgess stil to be published I believe.
On the moustache front, let's just nail this canard- the seal has one, but I don't, at least, not now. I think maybe the time has come to find a proper picture for the profile.
And I wish I were staying longer - but as you say, this might become a tradition...

bibliobibuli said...

yes, do find yourself a decent profile picture. haha. i can see my blog readers scratching their heads ... err, she's invited a performing seal to give a talk!

yes, you can come and see what malaysia is all about and then we can ask you back another time.

Tunku Halim said...


I've only just booked out holiday in Phuket and am cursing the clash of dates. Ah, perhaps another time.

Natasya said...

Sharon, will Prof Lim be attending on the 14th? It'll be nice to see him again!

bibliobibuli said...

never mind, hal, just think about uys while you're on your nice beach and i'll blog all about it!

i hope so, natasya.

bibliobibuli said...

natasya - yes he will be.

caving liz said...

Would love to come to this, as I recently read the book, but I'll be in a cave in deepest darkest Laos!