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.