I had a most enjoyable visit to the International Islamic University a few weeks back, to plot some acts of literary activism with Professor Mohammad A. Quayam.
(Interesting isn't it, that one of the most interesting academics on Malaysian literature in English should be Bangladeshi by birth and Australian by citizenship - he's a true international!)
We ended up having a most enjoyable chat about approaches to criticism (I reckon academics are incredibly polite, will dissect a text minutely, and examine it every which way ... but are very reluctant to talk about whether it actually "works" as a piece of fiction - and this has to be the focus of the newspaper/magazine critic.)
I was most touched when he gave me a copy of his newest publication, Peninsular Muse, which is a collection of interviews with Malaysian and Singaporean poets, novelists and dramatists including Edwin Thumboo, Wong Phui Nam, Catherine Lim, Shirley Lim, Philip Jeyaratnam, Muhammad Haji Salleh, Kee Thuan Chye and Dina Zaman.
Among other things, Quayum asks them about their writing process, and their thoughts on a range of issues including ethnicity, the problems of censorship, the status of women, and how they feel about writing in English. They says some very interesting things and no doubt I will be lobbing a few quotes at you in blog posts to come!
I wolfed most of the book down in a single sitting. (You can find some reviews of it here.)
If you want to buy the book, you can order it from the publisher, but the price is steep (£ 38.00 US$ 95.95!) as it is an academic textbook which will have a very limited print run.
Much more affordable is Quayum's One Sky Many Horizons : Studies in Malaysian Literature in English which is a collection of his academic essays on Malaysian authors and their works. It's definitely accessible for the interested layperson (such as meself!).
Published by Marshall Cavendish I recently found my copy in Silverfish for RM44.90.