Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Reclaiming History

It saddens me that Malaysia does not make more of its wide and varied history.
How on earth does a British engineer in the oil and gas industry end up writing a huge historical novel set in Miri, Sarawak?

In the Sun Bissme S. interviews Paul Leslie Smith (whom some of you will remember from Readings@Seksan a couple of months back).

Paul describes how most of his novel, Rainforest Tears, which centres on the love story of a British man and a Chinese/Melanau woman, was written in hotel rooms as he travelled for business. (Writing it kept him out of the bars, he says!) He also explains how he interviewed folks in Miri who had lived through the war, including one 82 year old man who moved him to tears:
He told me how they had a fine, thriving town before the Japanese arrive. ... Then he said the Japanese spent three years beating them, raping them, killing them and leaving them with nothing.
I met Paul for coffee a week or two ago and he showed me the old photographs he collected as he was doing his research and will soon be putting up on a website. I had no idea that Miri had such a fascinating past!


Anonymous said...

Oh NO!!!! Not ANOTHER novel about WW2!!! :-)))) Oh no!! There are now AT LEAST 3 novels on WW2 set in Malaya! We're swamped!

Seriously though, congratulations to Paul Leslie Smith and lots of success to him. :-)

- Poppadumdum

BP said...

Too often we only sit up and take notice of these beautiful/interesting/unique/quaint gems in our own backyards when foreigners unearth them. Sad.

Zuraidah Omar said...

In the 1990s, Alex Ling wrote two books set in Borneo - 'Golden Dreams of Borneo' (1993) and 'Twilight of the White Rajahs' (1997) - sponsored by the Sarawak Literary Society. My aunt, who lives in Sarawak, gave me these books as presents. I'm not sure whether these books were sold in Peninsular Malaysia. Cheers, Zuraidah Omar

bibliobibuli said...

thanks for that info, Zuraidah, it would be good to track copies down

Zuraidah Omar said...

I have to confess - I've had them for years and have only just begun to read the first book. Other unread books on my 'To Read' shelf kept jumping ahead of them. They're described as historical fiction. I'd be happy to lend them to you after I'm done - along with a bookmark, of course (though from what I've read from your blog, you already have stacks to go through). Cheers.