Friday, March 14, 2008

Chinese Stories

Lifted this from Eric's blog! :
MPH GROUP PUBLISHING is pleased to announce an open call for submissions of short fiction for an anthology tentatively entitled Chinese Stories. We aim to publish the anthology in 2009, depending on the number and quality of submissions we receive.

The theme of the anthology will be on Chinese life in Malaysia, Singapore and elsewhere, with writings that explore questions of fate and destiny, culture, spirituality, language, human longings and their consequences, ironies of life, identity and family. And love, of course. Stories could be sweet or sour. Or places in between. Or issues that have not been explored before.

Stories must be original, between 3,000 and 5,000 words, and must not have been previously published. We invite submissions from both emerging and established writers. Stories for children are not eligible for this compilation. Manuscripts must be edited, typed double-spaced with 12pt font and e-mailed to Please include your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address. You may submit as many pieces as you wish. Faxed or handwritten submissions will not be entertained and manuscripts will not be returned. We will contact you only if your piece has been selected for inclusion in the compilation. Writers whose submissions are selected will be expected to work with the editors to fine tune their stories.


animah said...

For God's sake, just as we are trying to move away from racist politics - something Malaysians have just rejected, MPH is trying to reinforce race again?

Anonymous said...

rejecting racist politics doesn't mean we have to deny our ethnicity and history altogether.

bibliobibuli said...

anon- quite.

you could write a story with chinese characters, animah. nowhere does it say that you have to be chinese to write for this!

i posted your comment on eric's blog though so that he can give you a better answer

Janet said...

Before anyone else completely misunderstands the aim of the project, it's merely to produce a collection of stories about Chinese life and culture (particularly in Malaysia and Singapore). You're right, Sharon, it doesn't say anywhere that you have to be Chinese to participate. I would advise a proper reading of the guidelines before jumping to conclusions.

anne said...

Aiyah Animah

Which part in the world no racist, huh?

Even country so progress like USA and Britain are racist.

You got to accept that Animah.

Your statement to move away from racist politics is very IDEAL but no way one can practise that especially in politics.

animah said...

Janet, I understand where you and MPH are coming from. I think the timing is a bit out though. Would this perhaps cause a reaction from other publishers - Malay stories, Indian stories, The Celup stories? Do we really want to reinforce these sterotypes?

Think about what is happening in our country now. This is an excellent opportunity for MPH to think more along the lines of Lloyd Fernando's legacy (Green is the Colour) - that may resonate more with how Malaysians feel today.

Anne, I get the impression you don't like racism anymore than I do, yet you are content to accept it. Why?

bibliobibuli said...

about the timing, i know the anthology was actually mooted months ago although the announcement was only made recently (once the entries for the previous collection - about KL - had been gathered). and even eric's post was put up before the landslide to the opposition which showed the huge shift in opinion! (if anyone's timing is out, it's mine, and it serves me right because i don't go to eric's blog everyday since it makes me buy too many books!)

racism is always ugly. celebrating a culture certainly is not. the idea is to bring out anthologies which focus on a particular theme (maybe the next theme could be a lot more muhibbah) in the same way that say granta magazine focuses on different themes.

why not take up the challenge and write a story which actually probes these stereotypes? i'm sure eric and janet would be happy to receive that (and animah, although playwriting is much more your passion, i know that you would be more than up to the challenge! :-D)

i think that anyone seeking to bring out an anthology of fiction is always bitten on the bum by the naysayers. how sad when this is an important initiative to encourage and promote new writing.

Janet said...

Well said, Sharon. Thanks for the clarification.

Anonymous said...

and, I AM MUSLIM 2 is still going to be published?

oh, right. that's not being "racist".

Anonymous said...

Chinese and Indian stories in Malaysia will always be Chinese and Indian stories until some other identity is offered to supplant that particular racial identity.

And that identity will not be a Malaysian identity until and unless the Malays accept Malaysian Chinese and Malaysian Indians as Malaysian. As an example, witness the pretty near complete assimilation of the Thai Chinese, who really are just plain Thais now.

On the plus side, I smell winds of change. Please let DAP-PKR-PAS not mess this chance up.


Anonymous said...

If it's a book for adults only and I can't submit a "Harry Potter" story, does that mean porn is allowed?

Anonymous said...

I think I understand some of the knee jerk reactions to this; I felt the same as Animah when I saw a post about this sometime back. (Can't remember where? Maybe on this blog? I believe the MPH Editors were talking about publishing projects in the pipeline, etc.)

But after having simmered down, it's not so much racist as it is exclusionary... but then, lots of writing anthologies / competitions are set around themes like ethnicity / race / religion. While this, as Sharon has emphasised, does not not rule non-Chinese writers, I think it's fairly normal to feel a bit... short-changed... when publishing projects *in Malaysia* call for entries based around themes of ethnicity. It's not so much that we're above race and ethnicity as a country (Ha. Ha. HA!) as it is that we're so dang deprived of decent publishing opportunities to begin with...

When something like this happens, you want to laud MPH for taking the initiative and providing an opportunity for fiction writers *at all*, and at the same time, you kind of want to boink them on the head. But very gently, and in a nice way.

Admittedly, as has been pointed out, non-Chinese writers can take this as a challenge of sorts and forget about whatever someone said about writing only about what you know best. Because, you know, it does emphasise that the stories need to have a focus on "Chinese life." I assume however, that much imaginative leeway will be given to the potential writers in how they choose to portray the "Chinese life" in Malaysia and Singapore. (And elsewhere.)

And I think I should just zip it and hang my head, right about now, for not having submitted anything for the Urban Odysseys anthology as I had planned...


Anonymous said...

I have been told that writers are always most welcome to send in short stories to MPH. If there are enough stories that fit a certain theme, they will come out with a collection. However, it is not as easy as it looks, simply because there are not enough stories that are both well written and interesting enough. So it all really depends on those serious about writing to submit better quality stories.

Anonymous said...

Okie, after getting over my knee jerk reaction, I do see where Animah is coming from.

But I don't have a solution that doesn't involve scrapping the project, or making a series of "Life in Malaysia" anthologies that further delineates racial differences (although personally I would buy these hypothetical anthologies esp as a set, and I can see how it doesn't necessarily have to be racially delineated - anyone care for Life in Malaysia as a ... coconut milk allergy sufferer?).

Maybe someone out there has some ideas?


Anonymous said...

Kazuo Ishiguro in The Remains of the Day creates English characters in a typically English ambience. Ishiguro is of course Japanese. To create characters of another race, you must understand them, research them and use your imagination for things you don't understand or can't research. So, what's the problem?

bibliobibuli said...

ishiguro was born in japan but has lived most of his life in britain. he's considered a british author rather than a japanese one.

but i do think you are right. what's the problem in thinking yourself into the skin of someone of a different race, esp. not in malaysian where you live side by side.

Anonymous said...

Most Malaysians have lived all their lives in Malaysia among other races. If they are able to understand the other races, there's lots of literary material to be mined in such a millieu. Andrew Sean Greer's new novel, The Story of a Marriage, explores the interrelationship between/among three African American protagonists. Greer is not African American. Writing about another race is not something new in fiction writing.

bibliobibuli said...

Writing about another race is not something new in fiction writing.

true. and i think you've just thrown out a really interesting challenge

btw i think an excellent example of this is lloyd fernando's very well drawn malay characters in "green is the colour". the author was of sri lankan descent.

there are lots of other examples.

Yusuf/Martin said...

Ok let me wade in here.

Firstly I thank MPH, or indeed anyone else who wants to put our an anthology of short stories.

This is becoming all too rare especially since Raman at Silverfish made his decision to cease that annual anthology.

Secondly, thought it may not actually be included within the proposed anthology, I have written a short story for this Chinese anthology.

I am not Chinese, but have known many people of Chinese ancestral origin - from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia/Singapore.

I hope that within the Chinese context my story will ring true.

My current story being published by MPH is about a Malay teenager.

I am not a Malay

My first story published in Malaysia - Silverfish 5 was about Indian Malaysians.

I am not an Indian

The last published in Silverfish 7 was about a situation - The Malayan Emergency, for which I had to research - not having direct knowledge of the subject.

All good writers research the material which has not formed part of their life experience, to date.

Why not research and learn about what it means to be Chinese?

Anonymous said...

Short-story collections don't sell by the truckloads nor contribute much to the coffers of publishers. If they are willing to invest in such collections, they should be applauded - not shot down!