Sunday, May 25, 2008

Shahriza's Legacy

First time author Shahriza Hussein is featured today in Starmag's Reads Monthly supplement in a piece by Brigitte Rozario.

I had the great pleasure of meeting Shahriza a few weeks ago when I was invited over to his house in P.J. to pick up a copy of his book, Legacy, after a mutual friend had put us in touch.

His wife, Sermsuk, totally seduced me with the Thai dishes she had prepared for lunch. And when Shahriza joined us, these felt like friends I'd always known. We found a lot of common ground talking about language teaching and curriculum design and shaking our heads at the state of the English language in Malaysia. And we talked books of course. Shah may be a little frail but he has such an engagingly wicked twinkle in his eyes, and very sharp intellect.

(I really look forward to meeting up with them both again and I'm hoping, fingers crossed, to get him along to readings@seksan's soon so that some of you have the chance to meet him too.)

The Legacy (published - very handsomely! - in Singapore by Editions Didier Millet) is a large, historical novel set in Perak between 1875 when British resident James W.W. Birch is killed, and Merdeka in 1957. But this is no dry tome as it weaves in incidents from Shahriza's own family history which came to him in the form of stories told by his parents and grandparents. This is the blurb :
After Perak Resident James Birch is murdered in 1875, his pocket watch comes into the possession of Mastura, a member of the Perak royal family and an intimate friend of the late Resident. Mastura, devastated by his death, decides to keep the watch as a talisman against the uncertain times ahead, vowing to return it one day. This novel is the story of Mastura and her descendents, as they make their way through 80 tumultuous years of colonised Malaya until, with Merdeka, the talisman can finally be returned with honour. It is a story of courage, fortitude, faith, and love.
The novel is reviewed here by Sivamani Rasiah who declares that it :
... will touch a collective Malaysian chord.
You can read an extract from it on Victoria Institution's website (it's nice the school is so proud of its literary heritage!).

James Hipkiss also wrote an excellent article about the author and novel which appeared in April in the New Straits Times. He says that Shahriza:
... writes the most beautiful English, and tells a fascinating story.
I really look forward to reading it.

8 comments:

Emily said...

Sounds intriguing. Wonder if its available at Silverfishbooks... thinking of killing three birds (opps I meant picking up three books) in one trip!

bibliobibuli said...

i'd say it would be the best palce to look, but am not sure if it is there or not. you could also try mph in bv2 just across the road ...

Firdaus said...

Off-topic: Salam and Hello to all biblioholics here. I need some suggestions here about a conducive public place to write. My criteria is it's reachable by public transport (preferably LRT) and have power plug for my laptop.

Usually I write at home but with the school holiday I found my little sisters keep breathing on my neck. Oh, having a door facing your back adds to annoyance as well. (Worse, they keep opening it from time to time). They are sweet, but I'm easily distracted ;)

BTW, do any of you guys know how early does the Starbucks at KLCC park opens?

bibliobibuli said...

nice question. let me give it a post of its own so we get more replies.

Emily said...

Peck Chin said to call the shop on Friday for update on in coming stock from the Singapore publisher!

Web Sutera said...

I always looking for this kind of fiction by local writers. I can't wait to get hold of it & read it right away!

fadz said...

this seems to be a very interesting work, i wonder if kino is selling it now..

Emily said...

As of Saturday, 28th June, Silverfish still do not have it on their shelves but I got my copy from MPH at BV2 and got it signed by Shahriza Hussein at Readings @ Seksan!