Sunday, August 16, 2009

On Beauty and Other Saturday Stories

Big apologies for the delay in putting up the pictures of July Saturday's Readings@Seksan, a very enjoyable and well attended event with some great readers. (I could offer you miserable excuses, but won't.)

Jac SM Kee who describes herself as "a feminist activist, agitator, writer & researcher" in the newly published Malaysian Essays 2 read from her contribution to the book : Boundary Monsters in a Time of Magic - we all enjoyed the intelligence and humour of this very well-written piece. (You can watch her interview on The Fairly Current Show.)

Also talking about body image was Yvonne Lee who read for us from her book of essays about women's relationship to their looks - Vanity Drive. The book deals with such topics as relationship with luxurious lingerie, that first white hair, help my handbag looks like a warzone would you go with makeup - things we women can all relate to, written in a refreshingly honest and entertaining way.

Yvonne is also the author of The Sky is Crazy : Tales from a Trolley Dolly - a hilarious collection of pieces about life in the air - I found it laugh out loud funny and wished that I had had it at the time that I was teaching cabin crew for Malaysian Airlines.

Dipika Mukherjee's name may already to familiar to many of you. She was the editor of The Merlion and The Hibiscus, the collection of Malaysian and Singaporean short stories published by Penguin in 2002, and she also edited Silverfish New Writing 6. She had just heard that her novel has been longlisted for the Man Asia Literary Prize, and so got a big cheer for that.

But today we encountered Dipika the (very widely published) poet reading from her beautifully produced chapbook The Palimpest of Exile which examines what it means to belong to many places, and the ways in which we find home.

And of course we had to have the delightful Shamini Flint back again since she lights up the room with her warmth and humour every time she reads. The last time she took part in readings she wasn't able to read from the first of her her Inspector Singh novels to be published by Little Brown . Today she was able to make up for that - and what fun it was to see Malaysia through the eyes of her bumbling protagonist. And for good measure she gave us another extract from her Young Adults novel Ten.

Ipoh-born Paul Gnanaselvam was one of the writers featured in MPH's Urban Odysseys and now teaches English at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman in Kampar, Perak. (I'm quite humbled that he made the journey all the way down for this event.) He read from his story Char Kuay Teow Satu, very nicely evocative about the way that the city has changed. I do hope we hear more from him.

And finally, we heard from a new writer, Amir Sharippudin, whose piece Blue, Black and White: How I Survived National Service appears in New Malaysian Essays 2 and gave us a very well observed insider's view of the whole thing.

Once again my thanks to all who read, to all who came (including from the UK my friends Rob and Elaine), to Seksan for his beautiful space and to the friends who helped set up and clear away.

Our next Readings will be in September after Hari Raya (because it would be no fun for those fasting during puasa, and I wouldn't want to hold it without them). We may also be holding it in a new venue, so watch this blog and the Facebook page for details.


Amir Muhammad said...

Ooo...will the next one be at Chai ??

anitakrishlee said...

It's always fun to read about the Readings@Seksan events. Here's a random thought: Would it be possible to have these events video recorded and the videos posted on your blog?

bibliobibuli said...

no Amir, probably Seksan's new place!

anita - i haven't in the past because i am frazzled enough doing everything else almost singlehandedly. but the good news is that someone has proposed videoing the whole thing and putting it online in an arts webspace. if this comes off then i will be very happy. our readers deserve wide exposure. hope i'll have more to say about this later.