We imagine the city to be a glamorous and seductive place, the forefront of excitement and adventure, the pulse or nerve centre of the nation. Bright lights in a big city that never sleeps, the café culture, the theatres, clubs, orchestral concerts, expensive restaurants and shopping in pristine malls: all enticements for the young and wide-eyed, or appeasement for seasoned, ambivalent city-dwellers. ... Yet how often do we choose to overlook the dirt and decay that exist within every urbanised community, or inadvertently neglect to notice that beneath the glossy exterior of consumerism and excessive consumption lie forgotten, invisible people steeped in poverty, and apathy that allows new building developments to flourish beside slum dwellings? ... Urban Odysseys: KL Stories is a rich compendium of stories and creative nonfiction set against the landscape of the Malaysian capital.Tomorrow is a very big day for my friends Janet Tay and Eric Forbes of MPH, because it sees the delivery of a much awaited baby. Their first anthology of local short fiction, Urban Odysseys, will be launched by actor Mano Maniam at MPH Megastore One Utama at 2 p.m.
There was a desperate need for a platform to encourage new (I've just avoided the "young" word, Yusof!) writers after Raman of Silverfish decided to discontinue the New Writing series and congrats to MPH for picking up the gauntlet and producing a collection that does them - and those writers they feature - credit. There's some sterling stuff by writers I already know and respect ... and some exciting new voices.
Yes, I have read the book already - sort of - because I was one of the proofreaders. (So go on, blame me for the bloopers I didn't spot.) I will be reading a second time - for pleasure.
More about the book later, but meanwhile read Eric's full introduction here.