Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pulp Friction and Four Letter Words

Amir Muhammad's weekly Pulp Friction column in the Malay Mail is something I look forward to for its intelligent reviews of local books, both newly released as well as older titles, all of which have much to say about the country.

You can read all his pieces archived on his blog. The most recent talks about Kee Thuan Chye's We Could **** You Mr. Birch :
... a subversive play in both form and content.
I had always wondered about the **** of the title, but Amir solves the mystery :
The original title was We Could Kill You Mr. Birch. But the licensing authorities of 1994 thought the word ‘kill’ was too rude. So the playwright Kee Thuan Chye changed it to four asterisks. The authorities approved, not realising of course that the title now seemed much ruder.
I'm so looking forward to hearing Uthaya Sankar SB at Readings@Seksan next Saturday, and has recently released a collection of short stories, Rudra Avatara, written in Bahasa Melayu Malaysia (the distinction is vital!), and Amir says of the book :
If Uthaya were merely a spokesman for his race, this would not make him an interesting writer. What counts for more: His supple and surprising uses of plot and perspective, his sense of irony and the absurd, his occasionally breathtaking endings. ... Although he has won the requisite sastera (literary) awards, Uthaya has an almost potboiler sense of pace and momentum; not surprising when you consider John Grisham is one of his favourite writers.
The best place to source for books by local authors is of course Silverfish.

Amir currently awaits the banning of his latest film, Malaysian Gods.

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