... quietness seems to be the trademark of Guat Eng’s collection of short stories. The click of the computer. The brush of a lace handkerchief against the skin. The ‘soft scrabbling noise and the small chirrup at the window’. Her characters – especially the women – are thoughtful and composed. Thoughtful in their concern for others and thoughtful in that they reflect, ponder and slowly masticate what they take in with eyes and ears. And in the quiet of their own heads, they suture together the disparate snatches of information from their imperfect worlds. Though what they learn or guess at may be shocking and deplorable – the unspoken incest in the story ‘Seventh Uncle’ and ‘Two Pretty Men’, child abuse in ‘The Old House’, infidelity in ‘Almost the Worst Thing’ – they keep these discoveries close to their breasts. And as suddenly as these realizations rise to rage, sadness sways and smothers all. No confrontations. No noise. ... Guat Eng’s fiction captures a cultural suppression that continues to hold true.There's an excellent piece by SH Lim on the work of Malaysia's first woman novelist in English, Chuah Guat Eng, in Time Out KL October edition. Do go read.
More about Guat on this blog here and her blog is here.