Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dina's Book Finds a Home

I was so happy to read this just now on Facebook and hope you will please pass the message on :

It’s the usual intellectuals speaking and writing countless essays, but what happened to the young? These voices must be captured in print and documented.

I AM Muslim – Other Voices. Yours. About two years ago, that book was published. Truth is, the book was a collection of essays written for a column I helmed at a news portal. That was around 2004/2005.

Covering Muslim life for two years was one of the most fulfilling times of my life. The people I met and shared adventures with – and, yes - the love letters I received from the public were indeed interesting, to say the least.

The column was not just me writing weekly essays. I had friends and readers who wrote in and contributed what they thought, and how they viewed their faith and being Muslims.

Mahathir Yasin, Idlan Zakaria, Menj, Shufiyan Shukur, to name a few, wrote wonderful essays. I even had an anonymous contributor who sent me emails in point form on his ‘militant’ childhood, which became a rather short-lived series for the column, titled Memoirs of a Militant Schoolboy.

Jordan Macvay, a Canadian Muslim, wrote an entertaining piece on polygamy, and had quite a number of irate Malay men baying for his blood. In short, these voices made the column a very lively place.

I had promised the published writers and other writers who were interested in contributing to the column that one day, they would all appear in a book.

I shopped the idea around, and not many bought the idea of young Muslim voices with ideas, opinions, and humour writing about their experiences. Even my publisher, bless him, was quite reserved in his enthusiasm.

Who can blame them? Selling books, especially local books, is not a money generating machine.

It took two years to find a publisher. You just have to believe in the product. I only know this: all these voices are more important than mine.

I started a blog, but with all due respect to the writers who sent in their contributions, the blog went pear shaped and became this confessional “I sinned therefore I repented and now I am a wonderful Muslimah”.

In recent years we have noted a slow silencing of diverse Muslim voices. While there were many forums and public debates that piqued the public’s interest, there seemed to be a process of publicising one voice only. Theirs. Not yours. Ours.

We have the usual intellectuals speaking and writing countless essays, but what happened to the young? Their opinions don’t matter?

These voices must be captured in print and documented, because (well in my lofty moments I do think of these) they could be clues towards public policy and grassroots NGO activity. They could highlight issues and dilemmas we need to address.

So now we have a publisher. Young, out-of-the-box, and thinks “hey, this is important to my generation and the generations below. This is our voices that must be heard”.

Hence, this project. ZI Publications will be publishing I Am Muslim Too: Other Voices and is calling for contributions from the public.

The criteria to be published are as follows:

(1) Quality writing. I don’t care how pious you are, if your writing does not come to mark, it’s sayonara.

(2) 1,000 words in either English or Bahasa Malaysia. It can be a poem, too.

(3) It does not matter if you are conservative, moderate, liberal, confused. We want to hear about your lives. It can be funny, sad, angry, calm – we just want good writing. (Yes, funny is good.)

(4) You do not have to be a Muslim or Malaysian to be part of this project. Yes, you can be a space alien, but you must write about your friendships and experiences in Muslim Malaysia. Bad or good.

(5) Redemption stories will not be entertained unless they really are good stories. If this is one of those confessionals I mentioned earlier, please submit it to a tacky tabloid.

(6) We welcome art/cartoon strips.

(7) All submissions must be addressed to together with your particulars. Deadline: Feb 28.

So come on. What are you waiting for? You’re ready to be heard.

The writer works for a non-profit organisation. Email her at


Anonymous said...

"If your writing does not come up TO mark", sayang.

lil ms d said...

chit! typo! :D guilty! i blame the sub ed!!

and fyi im not the editor for the book. will have very little involvement. all queries to be addressed to ezra! thanks sharon and anon!

Anonymous said...

LOL, the subs do all the work and get all the blame :) shouldn't you guys be discussing royalties though, or does everyone exploit talent in here? :P

Yusuf Martin said...

sorry did I read aright - young!!

Pardon me please if I misread but is the editor looking, once again, only for young Muslim voices.

Please clarify.

Amir said...

Young but no age limit. So must mean young in spirit, or spirits.

lil ms d said...

hi anon :)

the bit about age (no age limit) was cut out too. so yusuf, feel free to write away!

last i spoke to ZI, it's the usual 4 books per writer with copyrights belonging to you. see if they get 40 writers how do you split the royalties?

but i'll keep you posted. please do send in your work to ezra. thank you and have a good weekend!

ooooooo. know any good illustrators?

Anonymous said...

Usually if there are many writers in an anthology, easier to pay them with books or a one-off fee rather than share royalties. But definitely cheaper to give books lah.

Amir said...

For BODY 2 BODY we are giving people a choice of all sharing the standard 10% of royalties, or 4 free books. Would be interesting to see which option is more popular :-)

Oh BTW, 6 weeks to go for the deadline for not only these two books but the May 13 one too. For the May 13 book you need to be young, but for BODY 2 BODY you don't have to be gay or lesbian -- we will not check your, erm, credentials.

Anonymous said...

Selling sex are we? :)

Anonymous said...

Dinz :

I feel sorry every time I have to stick "(subs : italics here please)" somewhere :)

As for how to split the royalties, how about bank transfer? would cost about Rm20, far less than it would cost to send four books to everyone :)