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.