Monday, May 19, 2008

The 50 Most Important Malaysian Books

Amir Muhammad is asking :

If you were to compile, say, 50 Malaysian books that you should read, what would this list consist of?
He's decided to limit discussion to C2oth books which cuts out some of my favourites, and, he says :
I suppose if I were to set out 3 criteria for inclusion (3 sounds reasonable), a book to be included must be :

1. Referenced often, either in local popular discourse or subsequent books.
2. Exceptionally well-written.
3. Emblematic of a particular Malay(si)an experience.

All 3 would be good, but I will settle for 1.5 :-)
An essential reading list for Malaysian books is a topic that has come up a couple of times before on this blog (see here and here) along with the observation that so much of the local literary heritage is out-of-print and unavailable to a younger generation of readers and writers. Anyway please direct your ideas about the list to Amir, either on his blog or on Facebook. (I have closed the comments for this post.) There is some really lively discussion going on!

Amir is keeping pretty busy. There's his column, Pulp Friction, about influential Malaysian books old and new for the newly revamped Malay Mail, as well as a column about vintage Malay films in Tell magazine and a ready supply of politician quotes for Off the Edge. Books in preparation, all, by the looks of things.

(Pic of Amir (left) with Datuk Shan taken at Silverfish by Shahril Nizam.)