Saturday, September 1, 2007
Polish Celtic folk-jazz fusion group SHANNON explores new musical territory with the addition of Maria Namyslowska on keyboards and Marcin Drabik on electric violin (with Marek Kwadrans on bodrhan). Captured in action at the Rainforest World Music Festival, Sarawak, on 15 July 2007.
Friday, August 31, 2007
The colorful and exuberant Aseana Percussion Unit (APU) represented Peninsular Malaysia at the Rainforest World Music Festival 2007. Today, Malaysians celebrate the 50th anniversary of Merdeka or Independence (though from whom or what it's hard to say) - so it's only appropriate that APU be invited to liven up the party with their feel-good muhibbah stage act!
Thursday, August 30, 2007
|May Lee (a well-named marketing executive at MPH) welcomes me to the |
Malaysian Authors' High Tea at MPH 1 Utama
Whenever I manage to get a book published I'm fashionable for at least six months. I've been getting invites from MPH to appear in the Merdeka issue of Quill, their in-house magazine; last Saturday there was this forum hosted by MPH on where Malaysia's book industry is heading (don't know why, but the word "industry" makes me shudder).
And next week (3-4 PM on Sunday, September 9th) I'll be giving a short talk on "Mythology in the Digital Age" at MPH Mid-Valley (to which everybody is cordially invited - pick up a copy of Tanah Tujuh and I'll happily scribble on the title page!)
At Saturday's Malaysian Authors Forum I found myself sitting behind Rehman Rashid, whom I hadn't seen in... well, quite a while.
First-time novelist Kam Raslan was conspicuously absent - but I guess his book is doing well enough (a brilliant read, by the way, if you haven't picked up a copy of Confessions of an Old Boy: The Dato' Hamid Adventures).
There was talk of getting all Malaysian authors to form themselves into a guild. Apparently this may be the only way we'll ever break through the protective walls surrounding the literary game in the UK and the US (where the big money presumably is). Only as a organized collective will Malaysian authors have sufficient clout to set up their own literary agency and send representatives to hobnob with the movers and shakers. That's roughly what it takes to break into the global book market, according to those in the know.
I'm not much of a joiner myself - and I doubt if many writers are. Writing books is pretty much the domain of solitary types who enjoy the quietude and tranquility of the graveyard shift. Even if we do manage, out of pure self-interest, to assemble all at once and form ourselves into the semblance of a guild, it's almost a foregone conclusion that the administrative aspects will have to be farmed out to more pragmatic minds. In the end, the writers guild will most likely be hijacked by the few natural-born hustlers amongst us who get a real buzz out of entrepreneurial exertions.
In any case I can't help wondering what a Malaysian - brought up to be polite and face-giving and acutely conscious of other people's sensitivities - might have to say to the world at large. Since we've been told from a tender age never to use swear words or make fun of others - and that it's an absolute no-no to ever speak ill of VVIPs or even mention crooked judges and corrupt ministers - will we end up churning out cook book after cook book? After all, food is undeniably our unifying passion.
That's right, in Malaysia we're very good at cari makan - not cari makna!*
Literary blogger Chet accosted me while I was assuaging my hunger with a few hastily swallowed curry puffs and introduced me to a svelte young lady named Choong Kwee Kim who recently published her first illustrated children's book - Ah Fu, The Rickshaw Coolie. What to do, I had to buy a copy for my grandson Max who turned seven on August 28th. Of course, I read it before wrapping it up. Excellent drawings, lovely story, Kwee Kim, very well done indeed!
*Trans: cari makan = look for food (earn our keep); cari makna = look for meaning (quest for self-knowledge)