Friday, July 31, 2009

Overwhelming Terror

Overwhelming Terror: Love, Fear, Peace and Violence Among Semai of Malaysia by Robert Knox Dentan (RM 30.00)

This powerful ethnography of a people believed to be the least violent in the world explores how they maintain peaceful relations even under the most dire circumstances. Robert Knox Dentan, the world's foremost scholar of Semai, brings its members vividly to life. His book includes translations of their poetry, dramatized accounts of particular events, and narratives in their own words. Throughout, the author highlights the mechanisms and costs of peace, underscoring their relevance to everyday life in all societies. Students and scholars of peace studies, conflict revolution, ethnography, and Southeast Asia will find this unique work an invaluable and compelling study.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Many shades of good

Toni Kasim: A Tribute edited by Kua Kia Soong -- RM20.00

Zaitun Mohamed Kasim, better known as Toni Kasim, served the community on a broad range of issues for more than twenty years, fifteen of those years in Malaysia. She firmly believed in the principles of justice and equality for all, regardless of differences in gender, race, religion, sexualities, disabilities and access to wealth and resources.

Toni Kasim ran as the first independent women's parliamentary candidate in the 1999 General Elections on a gender platform. Instead of narrowing her advocacy to political party priorities, Toni Kasim raised issues that reverberated across communities and constituents, such as discriminatory laws, health issues, employment and wealth distribution.

A tireless leader, Toni Kasim devoted much of her life advancing the rights of diverse communities in Malaysia, and no one's reality was too marginal to be captured in her advocacy for collective justice. She was going to run for elections in 2008 when she had to be hospitalised. After months of battling cancer, she left us at the dawn of Wed 4 June, 2008, 5.30am, in her sister's arms. She was 41.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Young new writing talent

Lethal Lesson and other stories by Adeline Lee Zhia Ern (RM 30.00)

One day, mother said to me, "Do you want to go to Malaya?" I stared at her stupidly. Am I going to follow the other girls who have gone? Am I going to be married off? Mother told me that our neighbour, Lau, had a son in Malaya who needed a wife. I had only seen Yuan when he was a little boy, thus the impression of his face was fuzzy in my mind. "You're already twenty-one. You should have been married a long time ago. Do you want to go?" I was not sure. If I were to go, I knew life would be extremely different there. But as a daughter, I knew my mother wanted her request obeyed. I was somehow intrigued by the idea of going to a new country. "Lau has promised three cows in exchange for your marriage to his son. I think it's a good transaction." I nodded. So it was settled. -- Extract from Belonging Somewhere.

It was a surprise to know of the writer's age after I read her book. The mastery of the language, the creativity, and the fact that it was not a sappy teenage love story made the reading enjoyable. He passion must be encouraged. This is a good start to a writing career. Good Luck. -- Dina Zaman author of I am Muslim.

Fresh, unafraid and disarmingly unpretentious. Adeline lets her imagination rule her stories. Adeline also writes with a clarity that will surely serve her well in her writing future. -- Shih-Li Kow author of Ripples and other stories.

Other new Malaysian titles:

All the Beloveds by Alina Rastam (RM 35.00)
D is for Depression by Choong Khuat Hock (RM 25.00)
33 Food Hotspots: Kuala Lumpur's Ultimate Food Guide (60.00)
Kathakali: Kumpulan Cerpen Bahasa Malaysia by Uthaya Sankar SB (RM 20.00)

(Institit Terjemahan Negara Malaysia Berhad has recently supplied Silverfish Books with more than 130 titles, which we are currently processing.)