Philip Tatham of Monsoon books wrote to tell me his latest book Rice Wine and Dancing Girls has now had its launch in Singapore. I read the book some time back, and wrote a blurb for the back cover.
It makes me very happy that the stories of ordinary Malaysians are being recorded for posterity, and this book is a memoir with a difference - Wong Seng Chow actually used his father's scattered notes and archived interview material to recreate his father's life story.
Bong Kai Hong was a pioneer cinema manager working for the Cathay Organisation in Malaya and Singapore during the golden age of cinema. One of his unwritten rules “Retain calm presence of mind” proves particularly useful as he finds himself dealing with everything from cabaret girls, a jingoistic journalist, ticket-touting gangsters, to Sarawakian longhouse etiquette.
The contemporary photos, especially those of the old cinema buildings are an added delight.
The only disappointment for me was that I would have liked to have heard more about the films that Cathay was showing!