Siew-Chiah Tei's Little Hut of Leaping Fishes had its launch last night at the British Council and a good sized crowd turned up to cheer her on. I was given the honour of introducing her and started with a mention of "the quiet emergence" of Malaysian literature on the world stage. I forgot to mention in my speech (so make up for it here) that it was the first time that the British Council and book distributors Pansing had worked in partnership to organise an event and it seemed to work out very well for both of them - and certainly for us, the booklovers!
The author then she spoke a little about her book and how it came to be written and read an extract from the opening:
This is, incidentally, the novel's first launch ahead of the release in the UK next month (it has already been released in Australia) and it was lovely to be part of that.
Later, while the author signed copies for the guests (who found a copy of the book in their goody bags!), we had a nice little party with nibbles and the music of the guzheng playing gently in the background. (And how nice for me - some folks who comment pseudononymously on this blog emerged into the light of real life!)
In an earlier session, Chiew-Siah had given a talk about some of the things to consider when writing a novel, and illustrated the talk with examples of how she worked through each challenge. Writing must come from the heart, she said, otherwise it won't touch the heart of the reader.
I will tell you much more about Chiew-Siah and the novel soon as I will be writing up my interview notes for features in Starmag and Off The Edge.
If you're hungry for more in the meantime, you can find an extract from the novel here.