An ode to minimalism, the short stories in Rojak are really short; most run no longer than two pages. But in those two pages that contain each story, we get a slice of Malaysiana that an orang asing might not be able to appreciate. Anyone outside Malaysia know anything about Mona Fandey? If so, they can appreciate My Life As An Artis. There are tales about sex, including one that revolves around tempoyak which delivers a punchier conclusion with an extended version which Amir included at the back pages of the book (two other stories are given extended versions as well). There are stories of hypocrisy like DVD and Honesty and laugh-out-loud stories like The Breakup where a jilted boy writes a self-pitying letter to his ex-girlfriend in English but with phrases literally translated from Malay. Also, do you remember the Yasmin Ahmad-directed commercial about the selfish passenger who refused to give up his seat in the LRT? Well, there's an alternate hilarious take of that in this book. Was it not supposed to be hilarious? I giggled anyway.(less)
I was surprised to have been bored by it. I don't know...like one of the reviewers here, I too felt something was missing. No 'zing' and no 'wow' feel...moreI was surprised to have been bored by it. I don't know...like one of the reviewers here, I too felt something was missing. No 'zing' and no 'wow' feeling in any of the stories.(less)
Rojak hidangan Amir Muhammad ini pernah dihidangkan di dalam bahasa Inggeris tahun lepas. Saya ada 'ngomel sedikit mengenainya di sini. Semua cerpen t...moreRojak hidangan Amir Muhammad ini pernah dihidangkan di dalam bahasa Inggeris tahun lepas. Saya ada 'ngomel sedikit mengenainya di sini. Semua cerpen telah dialih bahasa ke Bahasa Melayu kecuali 'The Breakup' yang tidak akan mempunyai makna jika diterjemah ke BM. Cerpen-cerpen yang lucu dan sinis dalam versi Inggeris tetap lucu dan sinis bila diMelayu-kan. Satu cerpen yg lame dalam versi Inggeris ('The Dorm Horror Story') tetap 'lemah' setelah diMelayu-kan (Cerita Hantu Asrama). (less)
Like most people, my first experience with Breakfast at Tiffany's was via the movie adaptation and while it was generally a good movie (Japanese stere...moreLike most people, my first experience with Breakfast at Tiffany's was via the movie adaptation and while it was generally a good movie (Japanese stereotype notwithstanding), it is not at the same level with the novella that inspired it.
I feel sorry for Holly Golightly. A free spirit who wants to settle down but doesn't know how. Though the novella ends ambiguously, with Holly's current whereabouts unknown, I'd like to think that she finally found a man that matches her spirit. Either that or she dies alone in a hotel room somewhere.
I also realised that this may be the first ever romantic story that I've ever read, finished and enjoyed. Well done, Mr. Capote.(less)
Inspired by Adèle Geras’s The Tower Room Trilogy and Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, two books that sought to interpret western fairytales in a co...moreInspired by Adèle Geras’s The Tower Room Trilogy and Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, two books that sought to interpret western fairytales in a contemporary setting, Daphne Lee challenged thirteen Malaysian writers (and herself) to present both well known and forgotten folktales from the Malay peninsula in a new light for today’s modern Malaysian. These tales were first told in an age when life was hard, filled with superstition and the fate of the people were at the whims of their rulers. So basically not much different from today then.
Old favourites are here, with twists added: M. Shanmughalingam’s Sang Kancil story has the wily mouse deer team up with the crocodile instead of fooling it in their battle against a common enemy, Ho Lee-Ling ponders the question of how Singapura got that named when lions aren’t native to these land? Did Sang Nila Utama see a different animal instead? Preeta Samarasan mixes race and sex in the tragic tale of Mahsuri and Amir Muhammad feels that Raja Bersiong is ripe for a film adaptation again but this time let’s make it a musical set in a secondary school. But don’t forget to add some Muslim values to please the censors (but only add it towards the end of the movie so as not to bore the audience). Many of these tales portray women in submissive roles so these new takes, especially the two tales about Puteri Sa’adong (oh, just Google her name, why don’t you) by Karina Bahrin would please the feminists out there.
Not all stories collected here are from Malay folklore. A couple are from actual history of ancient Malaya which is murky at best. Janet Tay’s The Gift invites us to ask who was Hang Li Po? Who was she before she arrived in Malacca as a trophy wife from China? Was she really a princess as the history books tell us? The other is O Thian Chin’s The Last Voyage which explores the mind of Zheng He, the man, the eunuch, the famous fifteenth century admiral of the Chinese Emperor’s fleet.
These folktales aren’t strictly for children. Even in their original form, they were never for children. As Ms. Lee explains in her blog, “these types of stories are often called folktales, a term that, in the strictest sense, refers to their original oral form, when they were shared with largely illiterate communities by amateur and professional storytellers. There was no idiot box to entertain then and, instead, common folk relied on travelling storytellers, or penglipur lara, who would ply their trade in market squares and other communal public areas, telling all manner of stories to whoever would stop to listen and, hopefully, offer payment in the form of small coins; food, drink and clothing; and even shelter. One can imagine a mainly adult audience who would later re-produce (no doubt with appropriate edits) the stories for the young members of their families.“
Tales are told, re-told and re-told yet again, and each time a new audience is presented with these stories, the storyteller puts his or her own interpretation to them based on who is listening on that particular day. Malaysian Tales is just another attempt at retelling these classics, some from pre-Islamic days, of Malay culture to a new audience who may have forgotten these stories or even worse, have never encountered them before.
And Raja Bersiong as a musical? That’s just awesome.(less)
The 3-star rating is more because of me and not the book. I'm not a huge fan of short stories (I like some meat in my reading and short stories are mo...moreThe 3-star rating is more because of me and not the book. I'm not a huge fan of short stories (I like some meat in my reading and short stories are more like salads) but I gave this book a try solely based on a favorable review I read somewhere.
Suddenly, A Knock on the Door is surreal so if you didn't 'get' Kafka then you won't like this book either. But if you do like Kafka and think Vonnegut was the bee's knees then boy, you are gonna love Etgar Keret's collection of stories.(less)