Monday, December 31, 2007

Readings Gets Respectable ... Well Almost

Readings@Seksan's drew its biggest ever crowd this Saturday and it was standing room only! And the audience seemed a lot more ... *cough cough* respectable than our usual boho-chic crowd. (Although KG in his shorts and orange hair, I think tried to even up the balance.) We had *gasp* a politician ... and blow me down, even our national laureate, A . Samad Said in the audience!

I'd like to think exponential increase in numbers was due to my charm and personality, but I rather think that it all had something to do with Awang Goneng bringing his fan club along.

There was definitely an east coast theme to the afternoon, with the first of our Terengganu-ites Dina Zaman kicking the afternoon off with extracts from her short stories, The King of the Sea and a new piece (I think) called Nightwatch. She's sitting on such good material (I know because I've read some of it) and I really hope that it all gets collected into a book before too long. (Nag nag, Dina!)

Patrick Teoh, actor and radio personality (and much more) read a couple of his Teohlogy columns from Off the Edge so beautifully that it's no wonder that he's been dubbed "the voice of Malaysia". The crowd just loved his-tell-it-like-it-is critiques of Malaysian society and politics. You can catch up with Patrick on his blog Niamah!!! (a useful Cantonese swear word!).

We had a very extended break (I was waiting and waiting for the call to prayers from the Bangsar mosque, as we can't read through it ... and it caught me out yet again.)

I was going to leave Awang Goneng (the crowd puller!) until nearer the end of the afternoon, but the presence of a photographer from the Star who had to leave early forced some last minute rescheduling.

Awang Goneng (Wan Ahmad Hulaimi) began by telling us how he began blogging about his childhood in Terengganu for his children who had never lived in Malaysia. He talked about how rhythm is important to his writing (something that has struck me reading Growing Up in Trengganu*) and before he read from the book, he sang some of the songs and nasyids that he remembered from his childhood days which had helped to develop that sense. (My goodness, it was so beautiful!)

The fact that so many people turned up to the launch in Kuala Terengganu, the fact that so many people turned up today, shows just how deep a chord the book has touched. The book about Hulaimi's childhood becomes a book about other childhoods as well.

It was lovely too to see Hulaimi's wife, my friend Zahara Othman who blogs as Kak Teh.

M.K. Ajay is an Indian expatriate who has been working as the director of an American company here for the past three years. He has published a collection of short stories and two books of poems, including his recent collection Sweetness of Salt, which was released last month by Plain View Press in Austin, Texas. Ajay read several poems including Shadow that Became Rains, Definitions (and I was very taken with the image of the Petronas Twin towers as a honeycomb), Dialogue and Curry Leaves.

I will be writing more about Ajay and his book soon.

The other east coast writer (from Kuantan) was our bad boy blogger (or rather ex-blogger since he's taken his posts down and is now concentrating on other projects including film making). Amir Hafizi can always be relied upon to lower the tone. I issued a health warning before he began so that anyone with delicate sensitivities or weak hearts could leave. And bless him, he was on true Malay Male form, reading a very funny piece he'd written while drunk the night before about how he wants to get paid for sex** ... but realising first he had to get into shape had gone to sign up with California Fitness, and then of course there's the signing up process to deal with and the communication gap with the girls on the front desk!

Sadly, Shinji Moriwake didn't manage to make the event (his band had a gig at Central Market and he sms-ed to say he wouldn't be free), but I do hope that he can make it another time. (I quite fancy having a hip-hop influenced Readings ...).

Anyway, after the event people partied on and Awang Goneng signed books which were snapped up incredibly quickly. (Look how many this lady is buying!).

Thanks to Seksan, as always, for the beautiful space.

(And in case you're wondering, the artist whose work provided the backdrop for this month's event is Chu Yuan, and you can read all about her in today's Metro section of the Star.)

Thanks to all who read and all who came and cheered them on.

Thanks to Shahnim for the blog poster. (Irman's turn next month since he's so picky about fonts.)

Thanks to Eugene and Leon who washed all the glasses and cleared up.

Friends who stayed back for a chat afterwards ... and Reza had the best Christmas hat (though Adrianna Noordin came a very close second).

A very Happy New Year to you all!!!!

*By the way this is an older spelling of the state now known as Terengganu.
** If there are any takers who find him via this blog, you can pay me a small commission!


Nice write up on Hic Sunt Dracones blog. Manal enjoys meeting the writers. Kak Teh gives us a charming behind the scenes glimpse of what it takes to be Pak Awang's manager!

Sufian has great pictures as usual, and Firdaus adds more here.


Amir Hafizi said...

Man, I look like KJ.

Thanks for the kind words, Sharon. I would like to think that my blood-debt to you has been settled with this.

Now I only owe you a lunch.

Cheers and Happy New Year,


Anonymous said...

It was a great afternoon, thanks Sharon for organising it. And also a big thanks to you for providing all the wine, soft drinks and snacks.

bibliobibuli said...

haha amir, i guess it is settled though i didn't think you owed me anything. i owe you lunch but you gotta turn up on time! any day except thursday also can. somewhere different from bakerzin. (i really like this place called banquet in bv2 - they do champagne lunches!)

most welcome liz, thanks for always being such a great supporter and for looking after the practicalities of drinks for me

Sufian said...

I'm using a fancy new technology called film (or zilm, I think), so it may take awhile for my pictures to be online (one is indeed surprised by this backward incompatibility with current technology). Meanwhile, my digital captures:

Bookwormz said...

Happy New Year 2008!
I wish I could collect the guts to attend ur widely-attended-by-famous-people's Seksan and other events.

bibliobibuli said...

rani - please come. we welcome new comers with open arms. every time there are new people and i ask everyone to mix around and make friends. it's a bit like a party in between the readings!

sufian - thanks. can wait to see.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the shout out Sharon! I have to agree that Reza's hat was better, bouncing springs and all. Happy New Year!


Anonymous said...

I cant wait to see Sufian's 'masterpeice'. *snort*

I wonder how many ppl got hit by the ball at the end of reza's hat. It was so painful!

Anonymous said...

Sighs... I wanted so much to be there on Sat, but work commitments and all. Hope to attend "Readings" more regularly in '08.

Happy New Year to you Sharon, and all the readers of your fantastic blog! It is most definitely respectable, yessiree. ;)

Madcap Machinist said...

"'masterpeice'", natasya? *snort 2x*

Happy new yeahhhhhhhhh

dreameridiot said...

What a wonderful way to cap 2007, and to usher in 2008!

Happy 2008, everybody... Many more happy readings to come!

[Aside:... gasp... my name is online, oh no]

Firdaus Ariff said...

Hello there, I uploaded some photos of reading at

This is my first time attending Reading and I think I'm hooked. ;)

bibliobibuli said...

yes, next year kenny, for sure

firdau the pictures are great and i love the one of me!

Alice said...

Look at all the fun you all had! Great stuff!

Well, I didn't make it to the post-Christmas... was down with cough and turning up at Readings will be erm... disastrous.

Happy New Year 2008!

Kak Teh said...

sharon, thank you for having us at your do. We had a wonderful afternoon meeting old friends and making new ones.

HAppy new year!

Anonymous said...

(yeah i can't spell)

Happy New Year Sharon, keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link-up to the "silly" write-up :P

I really enjoy the Readings "scene".

Jane Sunshine said...

Sorry I missed it as I was not well. Happy New Year Sharon.

bibliobibuli said...

hi Jane - was worried about you as everyone was saying that you should be there. please do give me a call. would love to see you.

Anonymous said...

Sharon, I'm glad you like the picture I took. I've uploaded some more picture at especially of Pak Samad.

ManaL said...

I am flabbergasted n terribly chuffed that u took the liberty to link my article on my 1st ever session in your blog!

Thanks very much, Sharon and I am looking forward for any upcoming session esp when I am not preoccupied with something else like urgent deadlines, outstation n so on.

Anonymous said...

Sufian should just have called himself Sammy Hall (now there's a reference only Bib will get :) )