Sunday, August 31, 2008

National Day Books

Malaysia is enjoying a long weekend for the 51st National Day, so Sunday's newspapers are, predictably, full of talk of nation building. It was a lovely surprise to see my friend and erstwhile writing group buddy Soo Choon on the pages of the Star, talking about her cross-cultural marriage.

In a very packed-with-good-stuff ReadsMonthly section the Starmag team journalists compile a list of their 51 best reads esp for Merdeka.

Daphne Lee interviews Bernice Chauly about her work (You can find the full interview on Daphne's blog.) :
Chauly’s poems are deeply personal. They may or may not be autobiographical in detail, but the stories they tell feel like they were shaped by real emotions and memories.

They are Chauly’s emotions, memories and stories, but they also speak to and for women the world over. They are familiar tales, but filtered through the voice of an individual, they defy the cliches of everyday experience and become significant, compelling and unique.
and Ahnaf reviews her collection of poetry The Book of Sins.

There's a write up by Rouwen Lin about the Read While Waiting flashmob event of last weekend.

Janet Tay review Nam Le's collection of short fiction The Boat (and there's a 25% off token!), and KayKay enjoys David Sedaris' When You Are englulfed by Flames.

Vernon Adrian Emaung crossed the causeway for Kee Thuan Chye's The Swordfish, Then the Concubine, which sounds as if it was beautifully staged :
Set in minimalist staging that featured a serambi or open platform for village gatherings, 15 Singaporean actors tackled a story that called for a cast of thousands across two generations – you couldn’t get more epic than that, right? Especially so when you have a gamelan orchestra providing for the peaks and troughs of human drama, the deafening clamour of war, and the crescendo of divine retribution. Music composer Joyce Teo and the Gamelan Asmarada group delivered proficiently on that aspect. The underlying political commentary linked current issues to these ancient myths quite commendably in the writing. Similarly, it was truly fascinating to watch the production draw stylistically from bangsawan (Malay opera), dikir barat, and silat to facilitate and vibrantly colour the storytelling.
It was quite an honour to have a Malaysian play kick off a Singaporean Theatre Festival. How sad I am I missed it. But I do hope it is staged here soon.

7 comments:

Amir said...

And the folks at The Star didn't even notice the irony that they were commemorating Independence without citing a single local book, but 51 foreign ones.

bibliobibuli said...

true! we await your defintive list of malaysian books though!

Amir said...

ah, that will have to wait for next year with 52 books lah. i'd need to get hold of and read all the books first :-)

bex said...

The play was really excellent. I hope they'll stage it in KL, I would go and see it again if I happen to be at home!

Daphne said...

Anyone interested in reading the full version of Bernice's interview can do so at my blog. Here's the permalink:

http://daphne.blogs.com/books/2008/08/poetic-license.html

bibliobibuli said...

oops. thanks for reminding me, Daphne.

animah said...

Amir, you'd have to read one a week, starting from today!