Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sufian's Mission

Sufian Abas is Reads Monthly's pin-up boy in Starmag today. Daphne Lee sums him up thusly :
... a sulky young man who smells like freshly-pressed laundry.* He takes stunning photographs ... but (it is said) they are nothing compared to his beautiful, detailed work in cross-stitch. ... He tap dances. He enjoys skinny-dipping. And climbing trees. He loves horses, especially unicorns. He dislikes children, but thinks they might be delicious curried, or roasted and served with carrots and potatoes. Sufian claims that he was once nearly murdered by a witch.
But most importantly :
Sufian Abas is on a mission to save Malay fiction by producing works that people would actually want to read.
written in :
... the sort of Malay you hear on the street ... the Malay people actually use and understand ...
And he's conscious of filling a gap (presently almost uninhabited!) between what he calls the heavy literary prose and and the sort of trash you find in Malay romance novels. He also, and I think this is a particularly interesting point, urges non-Malay writers to write to Malay because they would bring something different to the language.

Anyway Daphne likes Sufian's book ... better than two other local collections she didn't think as good as they were cracked up to be on the blogs. (Blog?) Ahem. Never mind. We fought it out at the Food Foundry yesterday in between mouthfuls of toast and scrambled eggs . Chaque'un à son goût ... in short story collections as in breakfast dishes.

Priya K. reviews Sufian's book and finds the stories :
... snappy and heartbreaking ... the writing style is deceptively simple, opting for everyday language and pop culture references. The result is street poetry, with classic lines such as “dengan air mata berlenagan dan berkilauan seperti bebola disko” (with tears shining like disco balls). ... Philosophic pulp fiction, if I may venture to coin a term.
My review of Nikita Lalwani's Gifted is in Starmag today though with a Borders voucher when Kinokuniya was kind enough to give me the copy of the book which is a bit embarrassing. But never mind ... there is a 30% discount voucher for selected titles from Kino to clip out.**

Ted reviews Hitomi Kanehara's Auto Fiction (and reminds me that I still want to buy her Snakes and Earrings) and Martin Spice John Le Carre's Mission Song.

There's news too of bookstore events in April including of a free creative writing workshop to be run by Kam Raslan at MPH.

(*Hmm, just how close did Daphne get?)
(** There's a strange and sad postscript I want to stick at the end of my original post on the book.)


Sufian said...

Mission? Ha ha ha....

On a sadder note, Robert Fagles has passed away...

gnute said...

A chance to learn with Kam Raslan. That sounds fun!

Sharon, what do you think of this... Some well-known author was giving creative writing classes and said to the participants something along the lines of, "None of you are writers because you are taking a class instead of writing."

A harsh remark, but probably not intended to dampen motivation; rather, to stress the point that the activity of writing is the application of buttocks to chair.

Another esteemed NZ writer, CK Stead, said (and this time, I heard it from the horse's mouth) that he objected to there being offered a Creative Writing paper at the university, because would-be writers would learn more from a paper in English Lit, by reading the greats.

kam raslan said...

I don't mean to hijack this post but thanks for mentioning my workshop. At first I thought I'd just be talking for a bit then we could all go off for a coffee but it seems they want a proper workshop. So now I'm working on something fuller. Should be fun though.

bibliobibuli said...

sufian - from modest quiet guy in the background to literary superstar ... how does it feel? has the experience changed you? and is it true that you smell like freshly-pressed laundry? the world is dying for a statement.

gnute - some truth in what both writers say.

but then most writers like to refresh their batteries and connect with others, and i think doing a course is very much like that.

only a small proportion of those who do my course seem to take writing seriously though, and they are usually the ones who were writing some stuff somewhere even before we began, and have continued since. some people do courses to borrow a bit of will-power, i think.

i think reading courses would be very beneficial for writers too! (in fact novelist romesh gunasekera who also teaches creative writing said exactly that when i interviewed him) - actualy everything you need to know is there.

kam - interesting! do please keep us informed.

Kak Teh said...

sharon, sorry out of topic. pls go to rocky's blog - re: sufiah yusuf.

Ted Mahsun said...

I'm not sure if I would want to read Snakes and Earrings, judging from the synopsis! Sounds too weird for me :D

Glad Sufian Abas is getting the coverage he deserves for Kasut Biru Rubina. Kudos to Daphne!

bibliobibuli said...

kak teh - am so shocked and so angry that she gets put through this kind of cheap smutty publicity. above all i'm sad sad sad. i hoped for a happier story.

funny timing my review got printed today after waiting so long

ted - a couple of my friends in the book club i belong to spoke very highly of it when we talked about japanese fiction

Kak Teh said...

sharon - i blogged abt her some time ago - but did not mention her name. i've put it up again - just see the difference. And yes, I am so so so sad too. and what a coincidence that your review came out today.

and to be caught out by the NEWS OF THE WORLD???

bibliobibuli said...

it was a very sleazy article and i think how dare they do this to someone???? what right do they have? but then that is the british gutter press and thank goodness, although the press here has its faults, it doesn't cavort in the filth

baritonedwriter said...

Hello, this might not be a place to ask, but i've tried sending emails, but i never seem to get through, i swear my internet hates me.

But where do you conduct your writing courses? :D

bibliobibuli said...

mo, streamyx hates me!! my email got sabotaged and now i use my yahoo account sharonbakar at yahoo dot com and am also on facebook

i hold my courses at the british council (though there has been a bit of a hiatus dues in part to the bc library - which organised my course closing) and hope to confirm the next one soon tho' have promised to run a second course for those who did the first one

if you email me i will put you on the list and be in touch with you as soon as i have some news

baritonedwriter said...

Actually I had emailed you there. But I didn't get a reply, so I tried you streamyx, and that bounced back.

And I tried going to the British Council, and they told me you have no more classes.

So I ended up asking here xD.

bibliobibuli said...

oh dear, the internet doesn't like you!

just try resending and if i don't receive anything i'll tell you here. sometimes things go into spam although i don't know why.

the british council are giving out the wrong message at the moment because the library staff are leaving but i hope to have it all sorted out in a week or two.

baritonedwriter said...

Haha, i know, it also likes to cut off my MSN conversations after I say "hi".

It's better I get another chance to send a new one, I kinda wrote a lot of unnecessary stuff in there... Well, at least I think it's unnecessary, I'm not really sure what I had to put in, so i tried my life story xD.

And thanks, I'll try your yahoo :).

Firdaus said...

Good thing I bought The Star today, really surprised to see that they feature Sufian. Hmm, I don't remember picking up any particular scent from him. Maybe I'm not close enough.

On the other hand, I've set up an English version of my blog at Inspire Studio. Do visit! :)

animah said...

Sufian, what fabric softener do you use?

lil ms d said...

you smokin' man! ;)

Daphne said...

Sufian smells like Fab!

bibliobibuli said...

just how did you do your research, daphne? and do you go around sniffing all authors? and if you do, what do the others smell like? and is a supersensitive nose one of the requirements for the job?

Burhan said...

- i haven't read sufian's recent book. but if it's even half as good as the stuff he did for the elarti magazine last year then i'm sure it's great work. i think he's doing something original with language that i have never seen before, not even in non-BM literature.

- i'm upset about the sufiah yusof news. i hope the story isn't true. i had high hopes for her as a mathematician. not only that, it seems that a lot of other m'sians whom i know did math at top universities have also given up on the subject and decided to do something else...

- i got to read that new hitomi kanehara book!

animah said...

Burhan, Sufian's book is great! Very refreshing, you can rub your nose in it and come out smiling. Like a contented housewife.

Really, its great. Read it in one night and about to reread.

Burhan said...

"Like a contented housewife."

what an interesting image. hmmm...

that does it. when i come to kl in august for the holidays, i'll get the book. i hope it won't be sold out by then.

bibliobibuli said...

burhan - send me your address and i'll post you one ... provided we can get you to read again ... but no mathematical formulae, please

Burhan said...

(and that, pretty boys and girls, is how you fish for a free book...)

no need lah puan bakar. thank you for the offer. i don't think i would do justice to the book by reading it now.

at this moment i am unable to relax at all. in fact, everything interesting i read, there is always a voice buzzing around my ear like an annoying mosquito asking me 'can i use this for my work?', or 'what would philosopher X or mathematician Y say about this text?' i am unable to read anything innocently now.

but i am looking forward to august, though.