Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Personal Meets the Historical, Authors Meet Audience

We were in celebratory mood at Readings@Seksan on Saturday. We had three authors fresh from the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival, a gaggle of poets (right collective noun?) launching their first collection, great music from Singer songwriter Reza Salleh, books to give away thanks to the kindness of Pansing and MPH, lovely cakes baked by Just Heavenly! (Chet's idea) and an audience of beautiful people. (Far right is fantasy writer Glenda Larke, whom I must persuade to come and read for us soon!).

Shamini Flint has won a three book publishing deal with Little Brown for her crime thrillers but today she read to us from two of her children's books The Seeds of Time (which she launched in Ubud) and Ten about a football mad girl witnessing the break-up of her parent's marriage.

Singer-songwriter Reza Salleh gave us a set of songs before the interval which added wonderfully to the festive atmosphere.

The after a break for chat and delicious cake, with much bookselling going on thanks to MPH and authors who brought their own books along, we had our lucky drawer for brand new books with 11 lucky winners!
Preeta Samarasan read from Evening is the Whole Day. The last time she appeared at Seksan's was before the book was published - this time, many of us had read the book and could enjoy her reading from it even more. I was a bit naughty and asked Preeta to read from her most controversial chapter, with Truth and Rumour dancing in the streets on May 13th. It was a section that made me gasp when I first read it because it says the kinds of things folks are afraid to say out loud in Malaysia.

The personal also echoed the historical in the extract Man Asia Prize longlisted Chiew-Siah Tei read from Little Hut of Leaping Fishes where Mingxi's wife dies in childbirth and the reform movement is also still born. Although set in China, this novel illustrates the forces that drove many Chinese (including Chiew-Siah's ancestors) to the Malay peninsula. We really look forward to the next two novels in her trilogy.

Can I just shout from the rooftop how wonderful it was to have these authors here and to celebrate their successes? YAY!!

Lansell didn't make it to this Readings but don't worry, I will not let him off so easily.

Nothing happens without our lovely supportive audience. I was so surprised to see Kadek Kris, one of the organisers of the Ubud Writers Festival. You can see Bernice in the white shirt in the background with her two beautiful daughters, and Na'a Murad (actor and Jit's little brother).

Apologies to the folks I stared through glassy eyed ... I am a bit incoherant sometimes when I'm worrying about everything it's possible to worry about. Jane Sunshine, why didn't I give you a big hug?

Many thanks to Seksan for use of his beautiful space and to my friends who keep me calm and help me set up everything quickly and efficently and then quietly clear up afterwards - Chet, leon, Eugene, Saabdev - very many thanks. Thanks too to Eric and MPH.


Amir said...

Kadek = cowok ganteng!

Anonymous said...

That's a lovely dress Preeta had on.

- Poppadumdum

Satima Flavell said...

Congrats on what looks to have been a superb event, Sharon!

Aravin said...

sharon, the event, judging from your photos, must have been awesome. anyway, i wanted to ask you a question. what is your advice on writing a novel at the age of 16? and yah, its a fiction and its set in malaysia.oh, pls do reply.

Emily said...

I had that same thought on 'Truth and Rumour' too! Enjoyed this book tremendously!

Kak Teh said...

and jane sunshine was there? and you didnt give her a hug?

wish I was there.

bibliobibuli said...

kak teh - jane sunshine said i did hug her when i called her today, but i was so stressed out i didn't recognise her. (i once, in a time of even greater stress, wondered why one woman looked so familiar - she was my sis-in-law!). but in my defense the last time i saw jane sunshine she was hugely preggers

amir - yer what????

ppdd - it is. she wore one i really loved in ubud too. must be the french flair.

satima - thanks! and i invite you to come over here and read at one!

aaravin - if you want to write a novel go for it. next month is nanowrimo anyway!! whether your novel will get published / make you rich / cause you future embarrassment - well you will only know if you have a go.

emily - glad it wasn't just me!

Anonymous said...

Bad pun Warning: That dress is Preeta's "Evening" dress hahaha!

- Poppadumdum

Anonymous said...

Another bad pun warning.

Bet she wears it the whole day too.


Chet said...

She did!

Emily said...

Actually, I had a question to ask Preeta about Evening: Why didnt grandma go for an op to right her sight problem. They were certainly well to do....

Chet said...

Emily - Preeta's still in town! And she visits Sharon's blog a lot, so maybe she'll see your question and reply you here. But it won't be as fun as asking her in person.

Now, see what you missed??

Emily said...

(1) DH gone and cancelled his Melaka trip (2) Saturday was still abit too early for mingling with the crowd ...... I might still be a wee bit radioactive!

Oh great! when is Preeta leaving KL?

Chet! I left you a msg at Facebook!

Chet said...

Emily - I've replied your FB message!

Preeta - are you nearby?

bibliobibuli said...

i'll pass the question on.

Satima Flavell said...

"i invite you to come over here and read at one!"

I'd love to, Sharon:-) Maybe one day when I'm rich and famous!

Jane Sunshine said...

Duh, still quite substantial: post-partum flab everywhere so you should have recognized me!!! But stress excused and instead applauds for taking on the job of organizing the lovely, dreamy stuff at seksan's. First time there and so happy there's a space like this in KL.

I did get to chat with Preeta who is even lovelier than I imagined-how can it be possible that she is so talented, pretty and NICE? But she is. Too bad I missed the Wednesday session. Pls do blog about it for our benefit.

X said...

Aravin - yea go for it.. it's not like you're going to do anything else for a good long time, is it? plus you could make millions and be able to do nothing but write for the rest of your life :) ask Raman Krishnan, there's a hugely great future in local writing (LOL) :)

Satima - it's considered cheating here if you help someone complete a paper that they should be completing themselves, otherwise you'd be able to work here as well. It's totally cool that in Australia you can do that. I'm curious though, if they have language that bad as to have to pay $1000 to fix it, how would they pass anything they can't pay to improve?

Damyanti said...

I knew this one will be good, and I had to miss it......more depression! And to top it, the No Black Tie Event is at night, which means I may not be able to make it there on my own, so may be not at all....booohooohooo

Sorry Sharon to be sniffling all over your blog, but feel very overcome...!

Satima Flavell said...

Some courses here cheat by giving multiple choice exams that anyone can pass, at least at undergrad level. Post-grad students really have to factor English lessons and proof-reading into their budget because they will be asked to resubmit if their language isn't up to scratch. They are fairly forgiving if it's just a paper but for theses they want you to get it right as they are often sent overseas for assessment.

Of course, I don't rewrite papers. I just fix up the grammar and spelling, which can be quite hard if the person's English is really bad:-) Academic English is so different from spoken English that it's almost a foreign language to some native speakers!

X said...

Satima - Goodness, I'm going to migrate :) the degrees here cost less, but in terms of prestige, they can't compete with an Australian degree. It's weird that you say they are sent "overseas" because from here, Australia _is_ "overseas" :)

So that's how it's done? the papers are polished by you, and the exams are multiple-choice? I should have thought of that earlier, I got my qualifications the hard way :P

Can't spell, can't write, can get a doctorate. I think I rally WILL migrate :)

Satima Flavell said...

The multiple choice questions tend to be in "soft option" first degrees such as hospitality. I'm sure if you were doing Law or Medicine you'd have have sit "proper" exams:-)For post-graduate qualifications they do want decent English, but you don't have to sit exams - it's all done by coursework and thesis.

I've noticed that, by and large, students from Malaysia have better English than those from some other countries.

X said...

Satima -

You might not have seen a _true_ Malaysian site. What Australians usually meet are the one percent or so that can speak and write well. If you want a good idea of the average Malaysian reading/writing skill, visit forum.lowyat.net one day. That's what your average Malaysian sounds like.

It would be strange wouldn't it, imagine a Malaysian going to an Australian university having his paper sent to Britain for marking :)

Wow, no exams? nothing to remember? just coursework and a thesis? but that would be so simple. I'll just have to go over there and be a pig farmer or something while I work towards my doctorate. And then I could be lecturing or something.

No actually I'd rather be a pig farmer with a Ph.D. That would be cool :)

X said...

The other thing is, "farmer" in Malaysia and "farmer" in Australia have different connotations.

Farmers in Malaysia usually don't read. Most of them live and eat off the land, simple folk with simple lives. I'd be surprised if a lot of them were educated or spoke any English beyond conversational.

A "farmer" in Australia is the backbone of the economy, they work hard but at the same time they're intelligent and educated.

That's the difference :)