Sharifah Abu Salem sold 70,000 copies of her novel, Pesona Rindu (Enchantment of Longing), last year. And she had company: Sepi Tanpa Cinta (Lonely Without Love) by Damya Hanna also sold 70,000.Apparently a big reason for the rise in popularity of Malay fiction is that publishers decided to use everyday language in their books rather than the more poetic form of the language used for literature, making it much more accessible to the man on the street. Romance is the staple fare (although there are also thrillers, sci-fi and historical novels) but in its culturally acceptable version:
In fact, in little more than half a decade, just one publisher of Malay novels, Alaf 21, has sold more than half a million copies of seven titles, including Sharifah and Damya’s books. Tak Seindah Mimpi (Never As Wonderful As a Dream) by Sharifah Abu Salem sold 70,000 copies in 2000; Kau Untukku (You Were Meant For Me) by Aisya Sofea, 80,000 in 2001; Kau Yang Satu (You Are the Only One) by Nia Azalea, 75,000 in 2002; Bicara Hati (Discussions of the Heart) by Damya Hanna, 100,000 in 2003;Sehangat Asmara (In the Heat of Love) by Aisya Sofea, 70,000 in 2003; Pesona Rindu (Enchantment of Longing) by Sharifah Abu Salem, 70,000 in 2004; and Sepi Tanpa Cinta (Lonely Without Love) by Damya Hanna, 70,000 in 2004.
... in keeping with our culture, passion is restrained to eyes meeting, and love is seen as something more emotional than physical. And you don’t declare love in an unseemly manner ... when a character declares his love, he does it poetically. ... Religion, good values and love are all tied up together, and this strongly influences the overall flavour of the stories.It's nice to see local writers doing well, and reading encouraged. But - dare I ask - is the fiction any good?