Friday, October 02, 2009

Anwar Ridhwan - Malaysia's New Literary Laureate

If we do not grab this opportunity now, to improve and expand the usage and literary work, we will kill the language ...
says Malaysia's new National Literature Laureate : Datuk Dr Mohd Anuar Rethwan (who writes as Anwar Ridhwan) and Siti Nurbaiyah Nadzmi interviews him in The New Straits Times.

The appointment was, apparently, not without controversy.

His writings include poems, essays, and short stories (his favourite genre) in which :
... he delves into the theme of modernity and has always been critical of changing lifestyles and values.
Some years back I did read, and enjoy, Anwar's first novel, Hari Hari Terakhir Seorang Seniman, translated into English as The Last Days of An Artist by Harry Aveling. The novel depicts a nomadic storyteller who moves between villages telling traditional tales in the days before the Second World War.

In 1998 he wrote Naratif Ogonshotoa, a novel comprising 10 interlinked short stories :
... a magical tale of a fictitious kingdom torn by economic upheaval and political greed.
He says of the current flood of romantic Malay novels :
It is a healthy trend to publish popular fiction ... Because down the road the writers will want to write something more challenging, and the readers will develop their individual preferences. ... Eventually the market will offer what the reader wants and more genres will be available in the bookstores.
He also makes the point that :
Malay literature does not belong to the Malays alone ...
and predicts that in 10 year's time the laureate's mantel will fall to one of the many prolific non-Malay writers, naming Lim Swee Tin, Jong Chian Lai, Uthaya Sankar, Saroja Theavy Balakrishnan and Soo Cham as possible successors.


Edwin said...

Anwar Ridhwan is a wonderful writer who gave his time to meet my students and also took time to come to UPM to visit the students' exhibition on Malaysian Literature many years ago. Really glad he has been given this Award.
Now I am in Wawasan Open University and we are in the process of setting up a Malaysian Literature Centre in our KL campus.
We will soon have activities and will invite Anwar again!
Malachi Edwin Vethamani

bibliobibuli said...

hi Edwin! do let me know how your literature centre goes - it sounds really exciting.

come and read for us at readings@seksan sometime soon (i will give you a poke via facebook) and maybe i can invite our new laureate some time too.

ohh and if you ever feel like guest blogging here, it would be so nice!

Edwin said...

Will keep you posted on the Centre.
Thanks for the kind invites.
Will definitely try to do both some time.