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The Salleh ben Joned (1941–2020) I knew

The Salleh ben Joned (1941–2020) I knew

(This post is dedicated to Anna Salleh.) The photo of him was taken during a reading by a group of poets from Singapore in Oct 1999. (See the slideshow and more photos here: https://silverfishbooks.com/pages/community-1). See that energy in the eyes simply waiting to leap forth! After that picture was taken I didn’t see him for almost  2 years. I did wonder about it, but I didn’t know him well enough to inquire. (Friends told me, later, about his bout with depression, and when I heard how they had eventually zapped his brains, I cringed.  He returned after that (I had...

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WHO OWNS OUR CULTURE

WHO OWNS OUR CULTURE

Stories are the bricks and mortar with which societies and nations are built. But in Malaysia, most people seem to have forgotten our stories, our roots, having surrendered our culture to Disney and other western superficies. Did the Sleeping Beauty story originate from Malaysia? Bidasari and the Djinn is our version of the tale that is retold by our great traditionalist, Ninot Aziz. We think the Syair Bidasari predates the earliest European versions; it’s not an imitation, it’s much older. Bidasari and the Djinn became the first book in our proposed series to reclaim our heritage. (Ninot Aziz has many...

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MALAYSIAN WRITING SENSATION

MALAYSIAN WRITING SENSATION

Author: Shih-Li Kow Shih-Li Kow is a Malaysian writing sensation who came to light with her first book of short stories, Ripples and other stories, in 2009, which was immediately shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award that year, beating Ali Smith and Kazuo Ishiguro to the list.Stylish, subtle and funny, Kow is an amazing storyteller. The Sum of Our Follies is the story of characters living in a backwater town, Lubok Sayong, in a so called 'developing country' in Asia with no claim to fame apart from its annual floods, a dubious legend and general mediocrity, struggling with modernity; one...

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SUNDALAND PUBLISHING – WE TOO CAN’T BREATHE

SUNDALAND PUBLISHING – WE TOO CAN’T BREATHE

Background The Book industry in Malaysia and Singapore was established during the colonial times modelled after the one in Britain. In the initial post-colonial period, the industry remained in the hands of the Brits but was slowly divested to local interests. Later, books from America were included in the trade. Nothing much changed in the post-colonial period The hegemons of US and the UK continued to control the Malaysian and Singaporean markets. With deep pockets they controlled the media and as a result literary culture of the territories.   The big boys in the US and UK also controlled (through local...

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BOOKSTORES DON'T SELL SHOES

BOOKSTORES DON'T SELL SHOES

I had a customer at Silverfish Books two days ago who, in trying to make polite conversation, asked, “How is business?” and continued without waiting for my reply. “I guess it must be hard with no one reading anymore, everybody reading on their phones, or iPads or …”  Quite unreasonably, I admit, I got a little annoyed. Who spreads these stories, that young people don’t read printed books, that e-books are not books, etc? The media? Bookshops? Publishers? I explained to her that it did not matter what medium readers chose. They were simply consuming books (or, for the pedantic,...

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