Sunday, July 06, 2008

Chiew-Siah's Leap of Faith

When I was 10 years old, the teacher began to teach us composition in the Chinese school. I wrote my first one and he liked it and asked me to copy it down on proper paper. Then he sent it to a Chinese newspaper which had a children’s section and it was published. He gave me so much encouragement and asked me to write compositions with different titles from other students, so I wrote more. I loved it, and I learned more quickly than other students, and the habit of writing started from there.
My interview with our latest Malaysian novelist to be published overseas, Chiew-Siah Tei is in Starmag today. I loved hearing about how the encouragement of her teacher, and the kind neighbours with books helped foster her imagination at an early age.

(Incidentally, I'm working on another longer piece on Chiew-Siah for Off the Edge at the moment.)

Also in Starmag Jacqueline Pereira reviews the novel :
The tale is cohesive and compelling, the author’s voice loud and clear. The narrative style dispels any confusion that may have arisen out of the novel’s many issues — filial relationships, breaking with tradition, exploring new horizons and the advent of western influences. ... Asian audiences will easily identify with the straightforward theme, prevalent in their societies throughout the centuries. Especially those still caught in the conundrum of the relativity of identity. Another technique the author adopts is describing a place, event or scene via a list of single words or phrases. Yet the images clash staccato-style in your mind, impeding easy reading.
And by coincidence, Angela Bennie inteviews Chiew-Siah in this morning's Sydney Morning Herald.


Anonymous said...

Hi Sharon.
I'm sorry I'm off topic.
What do you think of graphic novels? Is it literature?Or trash? I ask this because my 16-year-old daughter is home for the summer hols and has brought back volumes of graphic novels. She says it's hot in America.
I've browsed through some. I think I'm going to like 'em.
But does it have literary value? I don't want my girl to grow up with a warped sense of good writing, or eschew reading the Good Books.
Hope you will share your opinion.
Thank you.

Mrs Ooi

bibliobibuli said...

i think they're great too. don't feel guilty just enjoy yourselves and let us know which ones you like best. (want to blog a post for this blog with your daughter about it? email me at sharonbakar at yahoo dot com)

i have written about it before several times and you might like to look at previous posts tagged graphic fiction.

may well pick up this thread again.

Anonymous said...

Hi again Sharon.
Good God, when I wrote you I'd forgotten: we had graphic novels back then! Raymond Briggs' Where the Wind Blows! Yes! It was a masterpiece, a heart-breaking, beautifully illustrated story of the end game of the Cold War. How could I have forgotten?
Now that's something to tell my daughter. As soon as I get off the Net, I'm going dust it off our bookshelves.

I'm so excited, as you can tell from the many exclamation marks.

Btw, you can find the animated movie of Where the Wind Blows on Youtube. I've checked.

Talk too you again. And thank you.

Postscript: Something else came to mind (it's my age). Eloise. The rich little girl who lives in lux hotel.

bibliobibuli said...

see, we just didn't call them graphic fiction.

i grew up on a diet of fantasy and sci-fi comic books which today, yes, would be called graphic fiction. i remember them with love and wish i could find copies of those stories now.

and i think graphic fiction has got a whole lot better and more sophisticated of late. if you want to go shopping for some kinokuniya has an excellent selection.