Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Book launch - Arok of Java

PramoedyaWhy did Pramoedya like to say that his book Arok of Java was his best? I typed in the title into Google and found that there is already a small buzz starting in the literary world. Arok of Java will be launched at SilverfishBooks, 58-1 Jalan Telawi, Bangsar Baru at 5.00pm on Saturday 24th November 2007. Admission is free. Everyone is welcome.

Arok became a king of Java bearing the name of "Arok", he who changes everything. Is somebody who changes everything a revolutionary? Was indeed this 13th century bandit turned king really a revolutionary? Is this the picture that Pramoedya Ananta Toer presents in this (mostly) realist novel? In Pramoedya's version of this early pre-Indonesian history, Arok is not just a bandit who becomes a king, but a Brahman-Kstaria-Sudra fusion. But this fusion does not amount to any super-human, for Arok is also a creature of his time and environment with all its limitations. The contradiction between the impulse to liberation and the constraints of a time bound consciousness is one of the things at the heart of this novel, which Pramoedya considered one of his most important works. How and why was this and why does it make for such a gripping read?

At the coming book launch Max Lane will look at the place of Pramoedya in Indonesian cultural life and his legacy as well as ask whether indeed Arok, a king of Java with a name meaning, "he who changes everything" was a revolutionary? Is this the picture that Pramoedya Ananta Toer presents? Max Lane will talk for 30 to 45 mins and then take some questions.

Max Lane is the translator of WS Rendra and also Pramoedya Ananta Toer's Buru tetralogy. He has written hundreds of articles on Indonesia, East Timor and the Philippines. His latest book, UNFINISHED NATION: Indonesia before and after Suharto, will be published by VERSO Books in May, 2008. He has travelled back and forth and sometimes lived in Indonesia since 1969. He was the founder of INSIDE INDONESIA magazine, the only English language popular magazine covering Indonesian affairs. He has been a teacher, diplomat, aid worker, journalist and writer as well as translator.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Launch of News from Home and the Malaysian literature in English series

News from HomeNews from Home has been a long time coming. Ten stories each selected from three writers. Ten stories we felt would be a nice number to introduce each of them to readers, each with their own distinct Malaysian voice, and each with a slightly different story to tell and way of telling it. These are all writers to look forward to, writers still in their thirties, writers who realise they still have a long way to go, writers who are genuinely Malaysian and modern. At the time of writing this, they are all working on their own 'solo' efforts which they hope to complete next year. We are excited like hell, we hope you will be too once you have read them.

LogoMalaysian literature in English series

News from home will be the first book to carry this sticker (though) we may decide to put it on some of our previous books that we think qualify - Lloyd Fernando, Salleh ben Joned, Huzir Sulaiman and some others surely will). So what is Malaysian literature in English.? The English part is clear enough. So what is Malaysian? Should the author(s) be Malaysian? No, we think not. It could be anyone who lives in or who has lived in Malaysia and has a unique perspective of what we are all about (besides the tourism brochure saccharine sweet bullshit and the whingy-whiny, angsty, everything-sucks crap). And that pretty much will define the word literature as well. Good stories well told, in a nutshell. Good poetry, good plays, good fiction and good travel writing is what we will be looking for.But if you are Malaysian and you write about Beverley Hills or Manhattan with no experience of either, I guess you will not be part of the series, lor. We will not publish you anyway. But then, maybe, others will.

Opening party

Yes, we will be having an 'opening' party at our new premises at 58-1 Jalan Telawi, Bangsar Baru (above pet shop next to DHL) and also the book launch for New from Home and the Malaysian Literature in English series at 5.00pm on Saturday, 17th November 2007. Come and meet the three new writers and have a party. Guess what? It will be Diwali too. All welcome.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Call for submissions:

Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature

Asiatic, an online refereed journal, published by the Department of English Language and Literature and the Research Management Centre, International Islamic University Malaysia , invites scholars and writers to submit articles and creative pieces for its forthcoming issues. The inaugural issue of the journal will be published electronically in December 2007, featuring critical and creative works by scholars and writers from India, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Fiji.

We welcome papers on all aspects of Asian Englishes and Asian literatures in English, including Asian diasporic literature and Asian literatures in translation. We are also interested in poetry, short fiction, non-fiction prose and plays in English by Asian writers/writers of Asian origin. Papers submitted for publication should be between 5,000 and 7,000 words and follow the Modern Language Association (MLA) style. Creative pieces should be between 1-3 pages for poetry and 6,000 words (maximum) for other genres.

Submissions to and enquiries about Asiatic can be addressed to Asiatic.iium@gmail.com or via regular mail to:

The Editor, Asiatic

Department of English Language and Literature

International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)

Jalan Gombak , 53100 Kuala Lumpur


Tel. 603 61965142/3

Monday, September 03, 2007

Lunch with Xu Xi in Bangsar Baru

XiXiHong Kong author XU Xi's short stories have apeared in Nineteen: a Collection of Stories by Women and Collateral Damage. More recently Xu Xi's manuscript, HABIT OF A FOREIGN SKY, was longlisted for 1st Man Asian Literary Prize. The following is an extract from her website (http://www.xuxiwriter.com/index.htm):

XU XI (pronounced "Shoe-See") is the author of six books of fiction & essays. An active champion of writing from Asia, she compiled and co-edited the first comprehensive anthologies of Hong Kong literature in English. A Chinese-Indonesian native of Hong Kong, the city was home to her until her mid-twenties after which she led a peripatetic existence around Europe, America and Asia. She now inhabits the flight path connecting New York, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

Anyway Xu Xi will be visiting KL for a few days on her way back from Hong Kong from the Ubud Writer's & Reader's Festival. She will be in Silverfish Books on Monday 1st October 2007 around noon and is proposing lunch with some Malaysian writwers and readers (around Bangsar Baru). Please send us an email if you would like to join the lunch party. (We need to know the numbers to make appropriate reservations at a neighbourhood restaurant). All are welcome especially those who have met Xu Xi before.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Alias Grace

(This notice is sent out at the request of the Australian HC in Kuala Lumpur)In 1844 sixteen-year-old Grace Marks is convicted of the brutal murder of her employer and his pregnant mistress. Eight years later she is offered the chance to redeem herself, but telling a story is never an innocent act.

In her brilliant portrayal of the celebrated murderess in the play alias Grace, award-winning Australian actress Caroline Lee transforms into Marks in a performance as intimate as it is dangerous. The character is based on the real-life Grace Marks, one of the most notorious Canadian women on the 1840s.

Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood's multi-award winning novel, has been adapted for the stage by Laurence Strangio. In July 2007, Malthouse Theatre (Melbourne) and The Instant Cafe Theatre Company present the KL production, supported by the Australian Government through the Australia International Cultural Council in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Relations between Malaysia and Australia.

Date: 4-8 July 2007, Venue: Pentas 2, KLPac. For details call Andre at the
Instant Cafe Theatre office, Tel: 03-79602214.

Southeast Asian Postcolonialities "Reorientations: The Indian Ocean World" An International and Interdisciplinary Conference.

(From a notice put out by the organisers.)

In line with the objectives of SEAP (Southeast Asian Postcolonialities - an international colloquium hosted by the University of Malaya's Arts and Social Sciences Faculty in 2006) the forthcoming colloquium - Reorientations: The Indian Ocean World - will reaffirm the on-going preoccupation with the location and agency of Southeast Asia within a global imaginary. We will have an art exhibition at the colloquium show-casing the Malaysian artists Latiff Mohidin, Khalil Ibrahim and Chang Fee Ming and the photos of Sultan Ismail. We plan to showcase documentaries on the diasporic Cape Malay and the development of Taarab music with its links to the dhow as metaphor. We will feature fusion dance from Bali and a discourse on dance and movement from the Philippines.

This event is organised by the Dept of English, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University Malaya

Date: 8am - 6pm, August 11&12th, 2007, Venue: Museum of Asian Art, University of Malaya, Registration Fees: RM 100 for public, RM 50 for students (inclusive of stationery and lunch)

Official website: http://english.um.edu.my/seap/index.htm

Friday, June 15, 2007

Fallen Leaves

Fallen Leaves: A devised play about the dreams, aspirations, challenges and hopes of people living with HIV/AIDS. This highly charged and much talked about drama first played to a sell out audience at Actors Studio, Bangsar last year. Now it's back with newly devised scenes and a whole new theatrical experience for its audience.

This new staging is a mobile performance experience and so is limited to only 50 participants per show. For inquiries and tickets: Food Foundry: Block B Happy Mansion Jalan 17/13 PJ Tel: Siew Ling / 012 330 5805 Cloudbreak Studio: P2-2 Plaza Damas Jalan Sri Hartamas 1 KL Tel : Jade / 012 330 2600

4 true stories come to you live and direct - all written and performed by people living with HIV/AIDS.

Venue: Dram Projects Studio, Block B, Happy Mansion, Jalan 17/13, Petaling Jaya

Time/Date: 8pm / Friday / 29 June '07, 3pm & 8pm / Saturday / 30 June '07, 3pm & 8pm / Sunday / 1 July '07 (Matinee shows are prioritized for school children & students. Groups are encouraged to book in advance)

Tickets by donation: RM30 (Adults), RM10 (Students, senior citizens)

This is a Community Theatre Initiative by Cloudbreak, All proceeds from these performances will support ongoing Art Therapy Projects at Welcome Community Home.

1st July 2007 update

As part of the Not that Balai Arts Festival 2007, Fallen Leaves will be staged at:

1. 67 Tempenis Satu at 8.30 pm on 25th July 2007 , and
2. Central Market Annexe at 8.30 pm on 3rd August 2007.

Catch it if you have not already done so. It is an eye opener. The performances are all by the inmates of Welcome Home who have never acted before, and some of the delivery is better than certain stuff you see on far more expensive productions on our stages.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Salleh ben Joned - readings from Adam's Dream

We all know why he couldn't make it to the book launch during the Kuala LumpurInternational Literary Festival 2007, and we were disappointed though we understood.

Salleh is much better now and will be doing a reading from his latest books Adam's Dream at Silverfish Books, 67-1, Jalan Telawi Tiga, Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday 4th of July, 2007 at 5.30pm. So why have it on a Wednesday? Because it is his birthday! Yes, Salleh was born on the 4th of July. (We have, since, changed the date and time of the event to the 7th of July but Salleh's birthday is still in the 4th though.)

Expect to have a good time. Bring your copies of Adam's Dream along for Salleh to sign, or you can get copies at Silverfish, of course.

Adam's Dream is an intensely personal collection of poems, some of which are extremely painful to read. But there are several fun ones too.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

KLILF 2007: Camilla Gibb calls Rushdie a mediocre writer

The Kuala Lumpur International Literary Festival 2007 has just ended after three days and over thirty different events featuring writers from over ten countries. Holding the events in a shopping mall (this is MallAsia after all) had its plusses and minuses. For one thing it had a warmer (in some instances literally) and easier atmosphere. You could have cappuccino and a giant piece of carrot cake (I didn't see much wine about) while listening to your favourite author, and there was no necessity to sneak off to the nearby mall between sessions for shopping. You were already in one. But on the other hand, some of the mall employees had difficulty understanding why we didn't like their piped-in music played so loud and their industrial fan.

Anyway, from early feedback, it appears to have been an enjoyable experience. There were the obvious crowd pullers. Tash Aw (Malaysia) was without doubt the most popular, with people spilling over, down the staircase at Alexis. Benjamin Zephaniah (Britain) was the other top draw, wowing the young and the old with his infectious streetwise poetry and rhythm. Dina Zaman (Malaysia) got good crowds and interesting questions for both her questions. (One participant got so involved in the discussion that she purportedly stalked Azmi, the moderator, to the parking lot after the session and proceeded to explain to him the difference between the foreskin and the hymen, because she felt her original 'question' on Dina's tongue-in-cheek essay 'Born again Virgins' had not been adequately addressed.) Another well attended session was with Camilla Gibb (Canada) who responded to a question from the floor by saying that she was not afraid of having a fatwa against her for bringing up Muslim issues in Sweetness in the Belly, and adding (quite unnecessarily one would have thought) that the fatwa against Salman Rushdie was "... the best thing that happened to his career ... he is a mediocre writer."


And then there was Antares, who explained carefully and slowly how politicians have evolved from a specie of reptiles ...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Media launch of KLILF 2007

The Kuala Lumpur International Festival 2007KLILF 2007 (KLILF 2007) was officially launched today by Minister of Women, Welfare and Community Development, YB Dato' Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, who is also the MP for Lembah Pantai, . The theme for this years event is "THE NATION AT 50."

This year's event will be held in Bangsar Baru, primarily at Bangsar Village from the 28th to 30th of March.

Several international writers and Malaysian writers have confirmed their attendance at the festival including Randa Abdel Fattah and Brian Castro (Australia), Benjamin Zephaniah (Britain), Goenawan Mohamad (Indonesia), Camilla Gibb (Canada), Eda Kriseova (Czech Republic), Elizabeth Smither (New Zealand), Word Forward Slam Poets (Singapore), Simithra Rahubadhe (Sri Lanka) and Tash Aw, Dina Zaman, Salleh ben Joned, Wong Phui Nam, Cecil Rajendra and Antares from Malaysia.

The organiser of the event have decided to extend early bird registration period to March 15th (from March 10th) because we have just printed the fliers andpostcards.

Watch a slidshow of the event here: http://www.silverfishbooks.com/Slide%20Shows/KLILF2007/KLILF.asp

For information of registration and tentative program: http://www.silverfishbooks.com/LitFest.htm

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Kuala Lumpur LitFest 2007 - Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah, is a British Rastafarian writer and dub poet, and is well known in contemporary English literature. (Dub Poetry is a form of performance poetry consisting of spoken word over reggae rhythms, that originated in Jamaica in the 1970s.)

Zephaniah published his first book of poems, Pen Rhythm, in 1980, which was so well received that three editions were published. His album Rasta, which featured The Wailers' first recording since the death of Bob Marley as well as a tribute to Nelson Mandela, gained him international prestige and topped the Yugoslavian pop charts.

A self-described passionate vegan, Zephaniah has been awarded honorary doctorates by the University of North London (in 1998), the University of Central England (in 1999), Staffordshire University (in 2002), London South Bank University (in 2003), the University of Exeter and the University of Westminster (in 2006).

Bejamin Zephaniah will perform his poetry, read from his novels, followed by a discussion. Topic of discussions will include his sources of inspiration for his writing and how he began, brief background on dub poetry and its impact on listeners, how writing prose is for him vs. poetry, performing poetry and using music, his experiences with poetry for radio and TV, his experiences making poetry a popular and accessible art form.

Bejamin Zephaniah is sponsored by The British Council. Watch a video of an interview with British Council in Brazil. (Don't worry only a bit of it is in Portuguese.) Watch other videos here on YouTube.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

KL International Literary Festival 2007-update

(Please wait for a moment for the video link to download). This page will be used for regular updates as we receive information. We will start with Malaysian writers.


Dina Zaman Book Launch - I am Muslim. Dina Zaman's articles about being a Muslim in Malaysia in Malaysiakini.com spoke for and captured the imagination of many who, though had similar views were, for various reasons, not able to articulate them. Dina Zaman's two session during the Literary Festival is going to be popular. And maybe controversial. Dina goes to places few have dared to venture. These sessions are not to be missed.

As Dina states in her introduction, I am Muslim is a selfish journey of faith. Dina meets shamans, nationalists, moderates and gets into all sorts of scrapes, to discover what Islam means to Muslims in Malaysia. Heartbreaking, angry and downright funny, expect I AM to be a rollickin’ read.

Watch Dina Zaman's recent interview with Al Jazeera here.

Tash Aw's writing workshops (perhaps that is not entirely correct ... call this a master class - read on).

Tash will be running two writing worshops. For his two sessions he proposes to do two workshops entitled 'Beginnings' and 'Endings'. These sessions will take the writing of beginnings and endings of novels as their starting point but will be much more wide-ranging than that, moving on the explore various (general) themes in novel-writing that may be of interest to the participants. The workshops will be TEXT-BASED, meaning that he will be using short extracts from famous novels as examples/starting points. These can be simple photocopied and distributed at the start of the sessions.

The workshops are open to anyone, though those with a lively interest in reading (ie those who are able to engage with prose) will benefit the most. The sesssions are meant to be interactive: he won't be 'telling' anything how to write.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Kuala Lumpur International Literary Festival 2007

About the LitFest

The Kuala Lumpur International Literary Festival 2007 (which was announced eons ago) is taking off. To date we have confirmation from several writers, which has been posted here.

The last time we had a Literary Festival in Kuala Lumpur was in 2004. We are (finally) holding one more again this year - our 50th year of Merdeka. The Festival proper will be on the 28th, 29th and 30th of March 2007. The theme for the event is 'The nation at 50.'

Events will include, book launches, discussions, meetings with writers, exhibitions and workshops - for adults and children. The detailed programme is still being worked out. Writers who have confirmed to date are Randa Abdel Fattah (Australia), Benjamin Zephaniah (Britain), Camilla Gibb (Canada), Eda Kriseova (Czech Rep), Goenawan Mohamad (Indonesia), Lakshmi Pamuntjak (Indonesia), Tsash Aw, Salleh ben Joned, Cecil Rajendra and Dina Zaman(Malaysia), Elizabeth Smither (New Zealand) and Sumithra Rahubaddhe of Sri Lanka.

One of the things we didn't like about the 2004 Literary Festival was the conference component. Many also thought that the cost of RM300.00 was too much, especially for students, who are one of our main target groups. What we liked about the Festival was the opportunity to mix and mingle with international writers. (Despite the cost we had over 250 fully paid delagates in 2007.)

This year we have decided not to hold the event in a hotel - which was the main reason for the high cost in 2004. And we will also not have the conference component. The 2007 KL Lit Fest will be held at various venues around Bangsar Baru, all within walking distance. Although there will be several events proceeding simultaneously, all participants will be given enough opportunities to meet all the writers. (If you miss one session, you can catch the next one.)

More details will be posted as they become available. But the most important part is where we bring the prices down.

Cost: (These are early-bird prices and are valid are until the 10th March 2007. Of course registration will be on first come first served basis.)

Normal adult: MYR100.00 (pass valid for three days for all events)
Students/teachers/writers: MYR50.00 ((pass valid for three days for all events)

More info: http://www.silverfishbooks.com/LitFest.htm