Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sin and Politics

Book of SinsThe Book of Sins: Poetry and Prose by Bernice Chauly (Price : RM 24.00). (Sorry, the earlier price shown, as RM25, was wrong. Our apologies.)

Structured loosely around the concept of the "7 Deadly Sins", Chauly's second collection of poems examine the depth and complexity of human experience, maneuvering its way through a range of issues and events that have left profound effects on the poet. Largely confessional in nature, issues like marriage, motherhood, are scrutinised in the first section of "sins" and further explorations of the self are portrayed symbolically and metaphorically in the middle section called "contemplation". The work comes to a resolve under "virtues" where an impending death heralds a forgiveness between mother and daughter and prompts a prophetic summation of the themes at work in this collection.

Book of SinsThe Old House & Other Stories by Chuah Guat Eng (RM 28.00)

The Old House and Other Stories brings together 9 Malaysian short stories in English written between 1992 and 2002. Most of the stories have appeared in various local and foreign publications and anthologies. Three of them are being published in Malaysia for the first time. With this collection the stories are more readily accessible to students and scholars of Malaysian literature in English and to the general reading public. Professor Quayum adds a literary dimension to this accessibility with his Introduction, where he discusses the stories' major themes, among them child abuse, greed, hypocrisy, superstition and prejudice. These themes reflect the author's social concerns, which are dealt with in the stories without racial or gender bias, demonstrating her neutrality, objectivity and sense of realism. To provide some insight onto the author's philosophy of life and her relationship with religion, race and literary criticism, Professor Quayum's 2005 interview with Chuah Guat Eng is included in this volume.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Penang Trams, Trolleybuses & Railways: Municipal Transport History 1880s-1963 by Ric Francis & Colin Ganley (RM 50.00)

Penang tramsWith over 100 old photographs, maps and illustrations, this book gives an overview of the various forms of public transport used in George Town from 1880s to 1963, and the role this transport played in the development of the growth of George Town and Penang.

Penang was one of the first urban centres in Southeast Asia to operate steam trams, horse trams, electric trams and trolleybuses. When the Municipal Commission established its own electric supply, it took over the tram service and started the electric trams in George Town in 1906. This gave the local population excellent public transport around George Town, with one line going up to Ayer Itam. In the late 1920s, the Municipality replaced trams with trolley-buses, experimenting for a while with re-conditioned double-deckers from London Transport!

The Municipality also operated two railways -- firstly, the Penang Hill Railway which was considered an engineering marvel when it was first built, and secondly, the electric railway which transported supplies and tin ingots for Penang's foremost smelting works.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


ChronicleChronicle of Malaysia (1957-2007): Fifty Years of Headline News (RM 120.00, DVD included)

The Chronicle of Malaysia
is the Story of Malaysia from January 1957 to 31st August 2007, a vivid, eyewitness account of major news events over the last 50 years. The book gives a grandstand view of events as they unfolded -- the raising of the Malayan flag, the Emergency, the formation of Malaysia, Confrontation, the 1969 riots, political upheavals, financial crisis, judicial landmarks, great sporting moments, cultural delights -- and quirky aspects of daily life
that just happened to make the news. It is history made alive.

Along with the year-by-year review of major news stories from Peninsula, Singapore (from 1963 to 1965) and the Borneo states, there is also a timeline of international events, including developments in other parts of the region.

The Chronicle of Malaysia begins with an Introduction by historian Cheah Boon Kheng who gives a short but authoritative history of the Malay lands from early times to Independence. This is proceeded by a brief Foreword by Tun Mohamed Hanif Omar, a former (and the longest-serving) Inspector General of Police, who puts the whole story into perspective.

The news is interspersed with inimitable cartoons by Lat that have appeared in books and newspapers over the past three decades as well as new drawings specially commissioned.

Research sources for this book included Malaysian newspapers from all the language streams. Foreign publications provided another angle. Photographs, too, came from a variety of archives and greatly enlivened the 'slice of life' that the book provides.