Yesterday's Readings@Seksan went off well - the audience a bit on the small side though, mainly I think because many people are still away because of the school hols, and because there are a lot of Hari Raya parties going on. Haslina Usman couldn't make it (but will another time) and I was lucky that I managed to co-opt in a couple of last minute readers.
First up was Karina Bahrin who recently had her first story, the quirky A Woman in Five Pieces, published in Urban Odysseys. She read part of a new story The Unofficial Wife and it sounded excellent. She is currently working on a short story collection, which I think is very good news for all of us.
Sufian Abas (below) turned up with his new protogee, a young poet called Mimi Morticia (above) whose first collection Tangerin & Nicotin (the title is virtually the same in English) he has just published. The official launch is actually today at Central Market Annexxe.
I was so happy to be able to rope her in for the event. She also read a very short short story from Sufian's new collection Matanya Teleskop, Hatinya Kapal Dalam Botol Kaca (badly translated as His/Her Eye's a Telescope, His/Her Heart's a Ship in a Glass Bottle.)
Uthaya Sankar (below) is an award-winning writers of short stories. (He says he prefers the form because he has a short attention span, which seems as good a reason to me as any!). He last read at Seksan's last August and today gave us part of his story Nayagi, Mistress of Destiny in Malay and his friend, Monash lecturer Symala Dhoraisungam Samuel (pictured below after Uthaya) read the English version which appears in an anthology called Sea of Rainbows, edited by Muhammad Haji Salleh and translated by Institut Terjemahan Negara Malaysia.
Shanon Shah (below) is an award-winning singer-songwriter, a passionate human-rights advocate (particularly when it comes to issues of gender, sexuality, HIV/AIDS and Islam). He has written for both print and online publications (including The New Straits Times, Kakiseni.com, and Muslim WakeUp.com). He is also a playwright - his debut play Aircon has now had two sell-out runs.
Two of his essays have recently been published in collections : The Khutbah Diaries appears in New Malaysian Essays 2, and today he read the opening of Muslim2Muslim, his very powerful piece that appears in the anthology Body2Body, which starts with the furor surrounding Animah Wudud's appearance at an international conference in KL.
I am twisting Shanon's arm to come back and sing for us another time!
Remember me telling you some time back about the rather "Graham-Greenish" (my desciption, not his) novel Ioannis Gatsiounis was working on? I read a draft of it some time back, and am very happy to learn that in a much trimmed back form it appears as a novella called The Guest House in his new collection of stories Velvet and Cinder Blocks: I'm really looking forward to re-encountering it. Ioannis read us his story The Rat Tooth - extremely good.
Amir Muhammad, bless him, when he knew that we needed a last minute reader ran off to a nearby cyber-cafe to print off an extract from his new book on Yasmin Ahmad's films to read for us. Although of course the main focus is on the films, I like the fact that the commentary in the side bars takes off in interesting directions.
Afterwards, Chet, Leon and I went over to D'lish for a bite and to toast our birthday boy, Eric Forbes (above).
Thanks to all who came and the brave souls who read. Thanks to Seksan for the beautiful space, and to Jess and Kenny who came early to help me set up.
Keep your eyes on this space because there will be Readings again soon - just I may be away end of Oct because of the Singapore Writers' Festival so dates may have to be moved round.