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  • abramsuzan 3:11 pm on July 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Man Booker Prize 2009 longlist 

    The Man Booker Prize longlist for 2009 is announced.

    You may catch it over here on its website at  Man Booker Prize Longlist 2009.

    I own some of the titles but not all. Sarah Hall is a friend so I feel a little partial towards her. For that matter, I’m glad Hilary Mantel got in.  Was keeping my fingers crossed for Tash Aw but there are no Asian writers on the longlist this year.

    I was also pleased that AS Byatt’s The Children’s Book got in. Was so hoping.

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  • abramsuzan 11:50 pm on July 19, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Remembering Frank McCourt 

    by Suzan Abrams
    I am heartbroken that Ireland’s illustrious writer, Frank McCourt, who authored a bestselling memoir featuring a poverty-stricken Irish childhood, Angela’s Ashes, has died.

    My personal experiences are of having met and spoken to him twice, not too long ago.

    Once was a signing at the Eason Bookstore on Lower O’Connell Street on a weekend afternoon, close to the Christmas of 2007. Having just published a seasonal picture book for children, McCourt was present to meet with fans.

    He asked me where I was from. When he heard me say Malaysia; he talked to me a little about his time in Singapore, a country he had visited and thoroughly enjoyed. He asked me if I had been. He said that he had grown tired of travelling and just wanted to return home. He wished it could be Ireland. He kept saying he wanted to rest. At the time, he looked terribly frail.

    I spoke to him again this February at the wonderful Emirates’ Festival of Literature in Dubai. I was amused to see that the now buoyant McCourt was in jest a lot of the time. He had put on weight and seemed in his element, cracking jokes that came complete with his sarcastic wit and an array of sardonic quips.

    He talked in length about how when he was a schoolteacher nobody knew or bothered much about him and that suddenly at such a late age, fame would hit overnight. How he regaled us with the comedy of a life well lived and learnt and too, his trials posed from aspiring authors who often posted him strange manuscripts for which he never knew how to comment.

    We would all see how McCourt so enjoyed speaking to a full house in Dubai. How glad I am now that Emirates and Foyles had chosen McCourt for a select author invitation and that he in turn, had so cheerfully given his time to the festival.

    McCourt was clearly in high admiration and respect for Orange Prize winner, the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi’s writings and also her observations on life. He was deeply interested in all she said and at a panel discussion, kept probing her thoughts on issues he himself felt compelled to comment on.

    May the beautiful Frank McCourt’s soul rest in peace.

     
    • acacciatura 7:59 am on July 20, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      A genuine and moving tribute. I think you’ve perfectly captured his presence in your description of your encounters. . . Couldn’t read past the bit where the baby dies in Angela’s Ashes, alas.

    • Suzan Abrams 9:29 am on July 20, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Wordy,
      In my shock last night, I made grammatical errors in my the article which I’ve since corrected. Many apologies for this. In Ireland, the film based on his book Angela’s Ashes, is constantly on re-runs.

      regards

    • acacciatura 10:00 am on July 20, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Yes I can see why that might be, Suzan. Please, if you have time, put up a link for any specially perceptive obit you see in your local papers — ideally, one with a uniquely Irish view of him.

    • Suzan Abrams 11:22 am on July 20, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Will do, Wordy.

      I think the Irish Times & The Irish Independent would be the best bet.
      I’ll come back to you on this.

    • Leela Soma 12:30 pm on July 20, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      A beautifully written tribute Suzan. Frank McCourt is an inspiration to writers who wait a long time to get noticed. He seemed to have remained a modest man. Ngozi’s work is wonderful and it is humbling to hear that Mr. McCourt was so interested in the young writer’s views. You were lucky to have met him in his homeland which he obviously hankered after. May he rest in peace.

    • acacciatura 8:12 am on July 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Suzan,

      Thanks for mentioning the Irish Independent … The Irish Times essays about him are so disappointing that you have to wonder about the possibility of the green-eyed monster being on the loose …;) .

      Here’s the link for the II’s piece by Sam Smyth: http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/my-amazing-friend-frank-mccourt-1828684.html

      Of course it’s sad when anyone dies too young — and 78 no longer seems old enough any more.

      But he was lucky, overall — a true Dickensian hero … a point that others have surely made elsewhere, though I’ve yet to see that. I am most fascinated by the pivotal role his third marriage appears to have played in turning him into a writer. At least, that’s the impression I have from reading the II tribute.

      @glascot! … I’m afraid I haven’t yet ordered or read Twice Born. There’s far too much in my reading piles at the moment. But I hope to get to your book before too long. . . Has there been any interest down south — in the great metropolis?

  • abramsuzan 4:42 pm on July 12, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    cityofvictoryby Suzan Abrams

    I have just bought and am reading the e-book titled City of Victory by an upcoming prolific novelist in Bangalore; Anita Saran.  Already, the narration appears colourful and eloquent. The  e-book  is published by Chillifreeze, a highly innovative and popular writers’ site in the Indian sub-continent.

    And who is Anita Saran? Well, she is quite the intriguing writer if you take a look over HERE

    …and also Anita Saran on Twitter.

     
    • Anita Saran 6:36 am on July 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Susan

      Thanks so much for your kind words about my ebook! So glad you liked it. Could I link back to you from my website? You have a lovely page. And I wish you great fun and inspiration on your trip.

      Best

      Anita

    • abramsuzan 11:27 am on July 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Of course, you may, Anita.
      No worries.
      Thanks for the kind words.
      I’d like to ask you for an online interview actually.
      I’ll write a little later.

  • abramsuzan 12:12 am on July 11, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Malaysian Author Tash Aw to Read at The Edinburgh International Book Festival August 2009 

    by Suzan Abrams

    If you’re an ardent reader, Scotland’s the place to be this August!

    Glance through the detailed programme that’s been elaborately laid out and styled – more the decorative element, I’d say for a coffee table glossy – and it’s easy to see how this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival 2009 is truly a universal meeting of the minds. The festival carefully shapes a prism that reflects a monumental number of slants in which  detailed subjects of authors, publishing, literature and writing may be delightfully probed and measured.

    Many, many big names and also fascinating lesser known authors. Also, a fantastic schedule of children’s book events.

    Malaysia is represented by its most popular bestselling author worldwide of all time, Tash Aw. Aw who’s currently in big demand for readings in several countries will talk about his newest novel Map of the Invisible World on Saturday, 15th of August at 4.30pm. His event which takes place at the Writers Retreat, is listed under the category of World Writing. Aw will share the spotlight with debut novelist Sulaiman Addonia’s The Consequences of Love; a plot which draws on a forbidden romance in Saudi Arabia.

    Singapore is represented by pioneer poet Edwin Thamboo and also the poet Simon Tay and the region’s highly popular novelist, Suchen Christine Lim. All three will speak at 4.00pm on Sunday, 16th August at the Peppers Theatre. I’ve met and spoken to Suchen. She stays one of the most level-headed, friendly, humorous and unpretentious writers  I know.

    Another shy writer that comes to mind is Diana Evans who’s also reading at the Fest and who I’m surprised has just had another novel out, which I didn’t even know about. Especially too, that I had been waiting the longest time. I once sat next to Evans at a Tash Aw reading in London and she was extremely soft-spoken, gentle and pretty much the lovely soul.

    One more humble author – but he’s not at the Fest – is Vikram Seth. I’ve met Seth twice . Chatted with him once at Hatchards in Piccadilly’s London and went to a reading another time at the South Bank. He is a very very funny man and enjoys holding an audience up in stitches for as long as it takes.

    Here is the link to the Edinburgh Book Festival Programme. Do enjoy your scroll down as you gasp at all the lovelies..

     
    • Lord of Erewhon 8:50 pm on July 13, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      For O Bar do Ossian, just click on the right side of the blog, and for Crónicas da Peste click on «Need a Tea?».

      Kiss, kiss, kiss.

  • abramsuzan 2:50 pm on June 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    HimGlish & Femalese by Jean Hannah Edelstein 

    jean

    As the blurb says it all, “The modern girl’s guide to understanding men… and vice versa.”

    A fashionable agony aunt in the making? Bought Jean Hannah Edelstein’s book HimGlish & Femalese published by Preface Publishing UK and costing 15 euro 60 cents, from Hodges Figgis Dublin, a day ago. It’s not a subject that’s up my street to be honest but because I know of Edelstein’s work, I look forward to reading it.

    Jean is such a star on the Guardian Books Blog. Her many popular blogs from about 2 years ago, have proved witty and highly-interesting pieces and more then once earned her a fascinating thread count. Here’s a determined lady who knows what she’s talking about and who often easily withstands the odds of argument and disfavour to come out tops.

    A glance through the easy-to-read pages complete with splashes of the cover illustrations, reveals some serious expert psychology going on. Not for the starry-eyed Doris Day idol types.

    HimGlish & Femalese also reminds me of a vibrant pop art/culture  in the light of the legendary American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.

    Jean Hannah’s Website
    Jean Hannah’s Personal Blog
    Jean Hannah on Twitter
    roy
    Credit: The above picture is by Roy Lichtenstein, courtesy of LeninImports.com.

     
    • Lord of Erewhon 7:32 pm on July 6, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Not easy to keep following You… 😉

      Kiss, kiss, kiss.

    • Suzan Abrams 3:54 am on July 7, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Hey,
      Missed you too, Klattu my friend. 🙂

    • Lord of Erewhon 6:02 pm on July 7, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      🙂
      Now, me and my gang, we have a «tribal» blog: O Bar do Ossian. A fine place…

      Cheers!
      Kiss, kiss, kiss.

      • abramsuzan 12:33 am on July 8, 2009 Permalink | Reply

        Oh cool, Klatuu! I’ll be along to check your new blog out for sure. And kisses back.

  • abramsuzan 12:09 pm on June 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Beverley Raw’s Telling Tales, courtesy of UK Unpublished 

    by Suzan Abrams
    Should I say that self-publisher David Buttle’s vision is a cool one? As cool as frosted ice on a cream cake? I’d be lying if I didn’t.

    At first, it just sounded too good to be true. Buttle who opened UK Unpublished for writers who wanted to see their work in print on a low string budget – and he explains how this miracle is possible on his well-laid out website – said he sourced his ideas all of 2006 and 2007 before volunteering to help publish a writer’s book for as low as say, £200 (the average estimate) and if you wanted a design cover he knew just the right person – but add on another £100 and well…the fee may hover a bit up and down the stakes but depending on the number of pages…and not a total sum that would invite disgruntlement.

    In the meantime, Buttle would secure you an ISBN code for those necessary online & bookstore retailers/databases and the rest would be up to you…

    Of course, if you were wise, you would have your manuscript seriously edited and proof-read beforehand…

    Well, to-date Buttle has successfully catered for three authors – he published them in March/April 2009 and there’s always room for more.

    I decided to order Beverley Raw’s 188-page paperback, Telling Tales from Waterstone’s Dublin without ado. I haven’t yet read her collection of short stories but excerpts from Telling Tales, The Looking Glass, Old Beaky, Rendezvous and Daddy’s Little Camper don’t disappoint. There is a free-spirited Woodstock tone about the lot…and I am reminded of a Lynne Reid Banks’ classic; The L-Shaped Room.

    Raw is an artist and jeweller, living in East Devon and clearly over the moon with her discovery of writing joys in later years.

    Well…she has good reason to be proud. The book is so beautifully produced and with such an enticing cover that it quite took my breath away.

    Buttle made the right decision in using Lightning Source, currently the UK’s foremost Print-on-Demand expert; also  a faithful companion to Salt Publishing and YouWriteOn.com.

    What a glossy neat finish to the cover, a tidy, pleasant template to the interior and overall, a sharp, snazzy look. Beverley Raw has herself a gorgeous paperback with Telling Tales if only she would go to town a little on her promotions.

    Together with Lightning Source as his choice of printer, Buttle shows up a thoughtful sophisticated result that would triumph over many mainstream publishers of traditional print in Malaysia and Singapore alone. In this vein, I’ll exclude Silverfish Books Kuala Lumpur and Monsoon Books Singapore for a superb quality that currently shape their respective title lists.

     
    • David Buttle 4:16 pm on October 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Hi All,
      Thank you so much for your supportive words.
      I just wanted to clear up the pricing of publishing with UKUnpublished.
      You can publish your book for £200, which is for book sized pages up to about 750, and comes with a full colour cover.
      The designer currently costs £100.
      One final thing – we can do Colour Paperback, Hardback, and Colour Hardback, but because the costs increase, we quote specifically for each book.

  • abramsuzan 2:13 am on June 17, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Farah Damji’s New Book Look & ‘The Gift’ by Malaysia’s debut novelist Zaipah Ibrahim, published in the States 

    try_me_by_farah_damji

    This is how Farah Damji’s autobiography will look like in the shops after its launch in early July. Makes you so want to pick it up.
    Check out Farah Damji’s classy new website and also her recent blog posting on Goodreads.

    *************

    by Suzan Abrams

    A reliable Google search engine and a touch of common sense, tells me that with the exception of her family, friends, students and of course her publisher in the United States and online booksellers worldwide (do count Amazon Japan); few if anyone else in Malaysia currently know that one of their own; modest Malay writer and teacher, Zaipah Ibrahim from her homestate of Terengganu -Malaysia’s luscious and scenic East Coast – published her first English Language novel, The Gift (ISBN: 9780979357770) with MuslimWritersPublishing in Arizona, America, on March 26, 2009.

    Ibrahim stands tall alongside other select international writers producing an eye-catching list of adult and childrens’ titles that veer towards the philosophical and would in turn; create Islamic culture as a high point of intrigue for any curious observer.

    Priced at £9.59  with Borders UK and $14.95 in the States and available at Barnes and Noble, the 292-page paperback, features a thoughtful if not heart-rending blurb; one easily reminiscent of MuslimWriterPublishing’s head, Linda D. Delgado or otherwise affectionately known as Wihad’s, poignant choices, as she aims to publish quality literature that heralds and celebrates Islam.

    In this respect, Delgado says that she would soon break into other genres, including science fiction and crime for her submission lists.

    Meanwhile, The Gift is described as a “love story set in exotic asian Malaysia”. It talks about a mother’s last wish for her son, where in her feverish attempts at offering him a gift of a new life, the parent must bravely re-open buried wounds from an unresolved past.

    As the novel’s foremost thematic approach, The Gift – which represents an almost intangible object – would meander through timelines and lost episodes with the rush of a gushing brook. It would mark a mother’s final handover to a son whose life can now be rebuilt where it was once torn from an ill-fated event. The Gift would then turn this young mother’s face to her own parent, where through unfortunate circumstances, she had dismally failed to make her mother happy. The Gift would then once more serve as catalyst for the young woman and the dying mother’s son to each triumph over their past, while fulfilling another mother’s wish.

    Zaipah Ibrahim, a graduate of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in the US, worked as an English lecturer from 1990 – 2001  at the Sultan Zainal Abidin Religious College, Malaysia. She presently owns and manages her own tutorial centre, writes books and teaches the English Language in Malaysia.

    Before Ibrahim’s fiction manuscript was selected for publication in the States, the author had self-published  two other educational children’s books Islamic Word Games Books 1 & 2, which were designed to introduce “basic Islamic terminology in English”.

    From a fellow Malaysian writer in Dublin, Ireland, many congratulations if you read this, Zaipah.

     
  • abramsuzan 9:47 pm on June 11, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Lovely man is Vidal Sassoon & New York novelist Michael Thomas wins 2009 IMPAC Dublin Literary Prize 

    by Suzan Abrams

    I observed that Vidal Sassoon revolutionary hairstylist of London’s swinging sixties, is to be awarded the CBE from the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. I’m pleased for him.


    I went to interview Sassoon once for a magazine personality spread when he arrived for a significant event in Kuala Lumpur from his mansion in Beverley Hills. I spent two hours with the father of modernist hair culture, over tea, at the Regent.

    I was used to these assignments. As a fashion journalist with Female,  Singapore’s top lifestyle magazine, one of my tasks was to interview celebrities.

    Of course, Sassoon is looking a lot older now but this was the Nineties and he was still very attractive, charismatic and with a shrewd look about him, able to size someone up in the blink of an eye.

    Sassoon playacted both the charming conversationalist and gentleman to the letter. He retained a strong admiration for his good friend, Mary Quant.  She held his respect for her cleverness or more to the point, her powerful business acumen. I remember how after all those years, he still shook his head disbelievingly.

    Born of Jewish parents, his pet subjects  now were architecture and Jewish history. He adored both these hobbies with a passion and could hold an intense dialogue about either for hours. He preferred we didn’t talk about hair design.  He told me, had his destiny taken a turn, he would have turned architect. In fact, he regretted a little that he hadn’t.

    On hand was his personal assistant, a proper Adonis as the rest of the journalists joked, when comparing notes. Terribly handsome, muscled, long-haired, ponytailed. I was left embarassed at the end  of the interview. The hallway to Sassoon’s suite high up in the hotel, had been complicated. I soon lost my way to the lift. I returned to the suite  feeling sheepish but Sassoon was good-humoured and sympathetic. He sent the Adonis to escort me to the lift. I grinned. It was a pleasant few minutes, I assure you. You never know when you’ll feel 16 again.

    Photo credit: PmpNetwork.com

    *************

    by Suzan Abrams

    The Boston-born debut novelist Michael Thomas has won the 2009 IMPAC Dublin Prize, for Man Gone Down, a story on a 35-year old African-American man caught in a difficult bi-racial marriage but who still wistfully years for the American Dream.

    Bankrupt and estranged from his Brahmin wife and three children, the devastated husband and father who finds himself squatting in his friend’s six-year old son’s bedroom, has just four days to come up with money to keep his family afloat and to once more stake his dignity and ambitions in the US.

    First released by Black Cat, an imprint of Grove/Atlantic in early 2007, – you can see pictures of the launch here -, the New York Times book review also reveals a good picture of the handsome and now as I’m sure immensely pleased, Thomas, who lives in Brooklyn New York with his wife and three children and lectures at Hunter College.

    I haven’t yet read the book but the plot reminds of me a heart-wrenching Sidney Poiter film.

    The IMPAC Dublin Literary Prize offers the fattest purse for a literary award and Thomas will collect 100,000 euro.

    Each year, nominations are called for, from libraries worldwide for any work of literature published internationally with English offered as a first language or translation. Man Gone Down was nominated by the National Library Service in Bridgestown, Barbados.

     
  • abramsuzan 4:43 am on June 11, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    The Singing Top: Tales from Malaysia… & Sherna Khambatta, India’s new Literary Agent, 


    by Suzan Abrams

    June 15: Look at the treasure I found, courtesy of accomplished American author Margaret Read Macdonald whose long list of works reflect sparkle, colour and fun! A secret chest too, I’ll maintain and for good reason.

    Several online booksellers in the UK, USA, and Australia including their respective libraries
    have readily advertised and stocked the tempting 191-page book of tales (pictured), since it was first published by Libraries Unlimited in August 2008. Yet when I scoured the online web for two major Malaysian booksellers, the names of author, title and ISBN number all drew a blank.

    As I skimmed quickly through Google, no Malaysian book blog seems to have mentioned it either with the exception of one as a tucked-away ‘reading list’ a few months ago. None popped up but then to be honest, this once robust scene has now dwindled to a trickle.

    Still as a consolation, I doubt  that Macdonald, the lively-spirited Fulbright scholar, children’s librarian, author of over 55 print and audio folklore tales and the grand dame of storytelling would  have noticed. Not  when it sounds like she could be having herself a ball at this very moment, travelling the world. Studying the animated writer’s illustrious portfolio on her cheerful website, nothing I write could possibly do her justice.

    Dedication and pure passion spell the author’s life work as she reads and acts the perfect role of raconteur at storytelling workshops, festivals, conferences and schools worldwide. Already, her calendar this year looks pretty full.

    The Singing Top: Tales from Malaysia… is Macdonald’s latest title. The writer who is expert in recording various ethnic folklore, sketches 15 Borneo tales in this anthology as part of a specialised World Folklore Series. Having a quick glance through the titles, it’s easy to see that Macdonald has gathered all the right enriching fables that provide for an exotic and flamboyant Malaysian history – there are Malay legends and intriguing if not humorous stories of the sultanate as well as the wily, cunning mousedeer. Tales of orchards, princesses, curses and animals offer decorative plots for the rest of the fare.  Accompanying novelties include colour photography, puzzles, games, proverbs and notes sketched alongside the tales. Having grown up with all these stories told us by teachers, friends and parents, while I was at school in Malaysia as a little girl, I can assure you there won’t be a dull moment.

    I will let you know more once I’ve read the book. I’m glad to see the title on Waterstone’s database. I’ll be along tomorrow to order it for sure, never mind that the hardback stands at the slightly steep price of £22. Already, it feels like a nostalgic heritage for me here in Dublin. I’ll probably have a moment flicking through the beautiful tales and remembering my classmates long gone. But then I who never really stopped being the child, long for the excuse.

    Photograph of Margaret Read Macdonald courtesy of MargaretReadMacdonald.com

    *********

    Sherna Khambatta:

    I don’t mind if I get a 100 rejections from this literary agency.  Of course, that’s a dire wish I don’t expect to come true.  But India’s new literary agent, Sherna Khambatta who studied in Scotland and now resides in  Mumbai, owns a one page website that to me feels as gently exotic as her name. Khambatta is the UK based Wade & Doherty’s Literary Agency Representative in the Indian sub-continent; although she is on the lookout for manuscripts at the moment, from anywhere at all. 

    Incidentally, one of Wade’s exciting discoveries was the young British scholar, Helen Oyeyemi who brought Nigerian fiction into a popular new light in England with the publication of her novel Icarus in London. Her newly-released novel, White is for Witching,  waits impatiently in my library.

    I am drawn into the parlour of Khambatta’s website for its poignant and slightly romantic indoor scene that speaks so much for my  life as a traveller and writer.  The falling rose petals reminds me of a sensuous scent or soap and also my great love for the Middle-East.  The photos of exotic lands bears faraway thoughts of an old India.  It doesn’t just hint of Rushdie’s literary grandeur but also triggers memories of both my grandparents’ and  father’s lands in the Punjab and Kerala.  The books, coffee mug and clock say all the rest about my waking day.  And those Post-Me reminders from where her website details are placed…

    Khambatta’s  website would do far more for me each morning with exuberance, than any inspirational Patience Strong verse or the aroma of good filter coffee.  It’s tidy, elegant and inviting in a way that would  stay tenderly pleasing to any rejected writer’s eye.

    ***********

    Silver needles spiking trees

    Gardens sewing leaves

    Green carpets, a veil of sky.
     
      suzan abrams –

     

    The rain languished,
    resting woman in her
    lovemaking  ne
    st.
    Not brittle, no

    summer
    sun dwindle.
    Cold wet repose,
    baked heat meltdown.

     

    – suzan abrams –

     

     
  • abramsuzan 3:14 am on June 9, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    The Rice Mother is included in a California School’s Course Syllabus & Soon: A Third Novel from Malaysia’s Rani Manicka 

    by Suzan Abrams

    (The photograph of the novelist Rani Manicka  is from my personal collection.)

    June 15: Postscript:

    The Castellija School in California, devoted to the excellence of education for women includes Rani Manicka’s The Rice Mother as part of its new course syllabus (2009-2010) for Asian literature. This  appears to be the only title selected from the Far East. Other rich texts include excerpts from traditional works such as The Analects of Confucious, Chinese and Japanese poetry, The Te-Tao Ching, The Dhammapada, The Bhagavadgita, The Mahabharata and The Thousand and One Nights.

    *********

    Rani Manicka: Malaysia’s first internationally acclaimed author who resides in England, was  published in London in September 2002. The Rice Mother which commanded an instant world distribution, was widely successful  and later, translated into 22 languages. The plot revolved around Lakshmi, a stern matriach and accompanying family saga held during the  turbulent Japanese World War II years in Malaya.  It also won the South East Asia’s 2003 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize. This was followed by Manicka’s second novel,  Touching Earth, also published in the UK.

    A Personal Note: The Rice Mother is Malaysia’s only fiction title so commercially popular that you can find it easily in the majority of Dublin bookstores.

    Hopefully, another novel will soon be on the way with rights already secured in European countries.

    **********

    The Japanese Umbrella by Rani Manicka  (following in the tradition of The Rice Mother).

    Preview:

    ‘How could she tell him what she was waiting for? That she had been waiting all her life for love, a love that knew no bounds, a thorny, wild, beautiful, musk scented weed that waits for the raging monsoon flower’

    Set against the powerful backdrop of 20th century Malaysia, THE JAPANESE UMBRELLA tells the story of a young peasant girl, Parvathi, whose penniless father sends away to Malaya to marry a rich widower. Fooled by a false photo, Kasu Marimuthu is horrified at his ‘dark’ skinned, uneducated bride. Parvathi seeks comfort in the surrounding exotic landscape and together with the servant and legendary healer Maya, cooks up an alternative version of reality, trying to forgo the shameful abuse by her husband. Only on his deathbed does Kasu regret that he has not known his wife at all, leaving her to bring up their son and the orphaned daughter of his late mistress.

    Kasu’s death coincides with the Japanese invasion of Malaya, and Parvathi and their children are forced to leave their home. Striking a deal with a Japanese senior official to save her daughter’s dignity, Parvathi gives herself to him each night, startled by her own sexual awakening. Their unexpected love enables them to survive the nightmares that go on around them until they are forced to separate at the end of the war. Parvathi struggles on through the tragic aftermath, anticipating the year 1957, the day of Malaysian independence from the British, the day her Japanese soldier promises to return…

    A saga described as beautifully composed and rich in imagery….
    Wait for it!

    Credit: This information is secured from the Darley Anderson agency  in London which looks after Manicka’s writing career.)

     
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