Sunday, January 31, 2010

The good old days

KirkbyKirkby: The Life and the Loves by Shaari Isa -- The Right Connections (2009) -- RM29.90

As the title suggests, this novel tells the story of the life at Kirkby College, a college established by the Federation of Malaya to train its teachers in England from 1952 to 1962. In this sense the College is unique in the annals of educational history.

This novel is a work of fiction set within the framework of facts which are described in great details. It is a fascinating story of the loves and conflicts weaved within the life of the students in the College who lived within an island of diverse Malayan cultures surrounded by the sea of British life.

The book is also a historical document because it describes the curricular and extra curricular activities, also the actual staff and physical facilities of the College at the time.

Dr. Shaari has an educational background having been trained as a teacher at Kirkby then went on to become a professional accountant. He has written several novels and a set of short stories in Malay and several academic books on accounting mainly in English.

Like all of Shaari's creative works, this novel focuses on human relation in society. It portrays that human emotion and life cut across all cultures, races and boundaries.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Annexe Gallery lectures

What your teacher didn't tell you by Farish A Noor -- Matahari Books (RM40.00)

Farish A Noor might just be Malaysia's hippest intellectual. His gifts are on full display in these expanded versions of public lectures that he delivered at The Annexe Gallery, Central Market Kuala Lumpur in 2008 and 2009. There is even a bonus chapter!

Find out how 'racial difference' became a big deal in Malaysia, and contrast this against the way our distant ancestors lived. Discover the hidden stories of the keris, Hang Tuah and PAS. There's also quite a bit of sex. Erudite, impassioned and often plain naughty, What Your Teacher Didn't Tell You is a stimulating plunge into aspects of our past that have been kept from us.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Islamic Architecture in Malaysia

Rethinking Islamic Architecture by Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi (RM 30.00)

Islamic architecture has never undergone a sustained period of self-criticism and creative renewal. Arguing in favour of a return to humility, humanism and the eternal values of Islam, the author shows a way out of the impasse in Islamic architecture by a close reading of the Islamic sources in tandem with a re-examination of the work of visionary Western modernists.

Professor Tajuddin also restores the importance of appreciating the integrity and sustainable design and technologies of Southeast Asian Islamic architecture as well as such postcolonial designs such as the National Mosque, the brilliant use of vernacular design in the Amanah Saham Pahang mosques and an organic, community-centred Islamic mosque-complex in Kota Baru -- all in Malaysia. Rethinking Islamic
Architecture challenges clients, architects, student and the general reader alike to rethink their assumptions and practices, and open their minds to a wealth of less explored possibilities.

This provocative yet accessible book should be read by anyone concerned about the need to restore sustainable human-centred design and shared value to contemporary cities.

Other Malaysian titles:

Tropical Affairs by Robert Raymer (RM 32.90)
Kirkby: The Life and the Loves by Shaari Isa (RM 29.90)
SUARAM: 20 Years Defending Human Rights by Kua Kia Soong (RM 20.00)
Where is Justic? Death and Brutality in Custody edited by John Lee & Nathaniel Tan (RM 29.00)
Call if You Need Me (DVD) by James Lee (RM 20.00)
All My Failed Attempts (DVD) by Tan Chui Mui (RM 20.00)
Sikh Community in Malaysia by Darshan Singh Gill (RM 89.90)