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Malaysian Tales: Retold & Remixed

3.30  ·  Rating details ·  57 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Fables and fairytales. Myths and legends. They are an integral part of our heritage; of the legacy of our forefathers. Handed down from generation to generation. Passed on by word of mouth. Lamplight stories that quietly and cleverly skirt that fine line between childish fantasy and profoundly penetrating philosophy.

This stunning new collection features 16 classic tales as
Paperback, 204 pages
Published June 2011 by ZI Publications
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Yin Chien 인첸
Dec 24, 2011 rated it liked it
As this book consists of 16 individual stories, I will review them one by one.

A Little Warm Death by Karina Bahrin is a retelling of the legend of Puteri Sa'adong. When I looked at the title, I expected something that is related to murder or crime, but the story turned out to be something else, which was rather bland. 1 star.

The concept of Batu Belah by Zed Adam Idris is new and exciting, but I got confused by the identities of the protagonists. I thought Kenanga is a girl and Tanjung is a boy.
Khairul Hezry
Jul 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
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 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. S ...more
Sooraya Evans
Sep 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
I can appreciate the motivation behind retelling local folk tales in a more contemporary setting and context. But it seemed that the authors approached here didn't really give their best. The selection presented throughout sort of felt churned at the very last minute for the sake of contributing. That was the impression I got. What a waste! The coordinator should have opened the project to a wider range of writers before shortlisting the gems. It's meaningless to compile crap from
Jason Lundberg
Apr 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
A slightly uneven anthology, with some pieces that probably should have been left on the cutting room floor, but others gleam in contrast. The two stories by Preeta Samarasan in particular are incredible pieces of writing, and I'm now keen to seek out her other work. And the editor's own contribution is also wonderfully concise and beautifully written.

It was also a bit difficult for me (a non-Malaysian) to get a sense of the source texts that these stories were riffing on, because I'm just not f
Zen Cho
May 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Bumped up to 3 stars for the brilliant cover. I really intensely wanted to like this. The stories I remember most are the two Preeta Samarasan ones ("Si Tanggang" and "Mahsuri"; I liked "Mahsuri" better -- notwithstanding any issues I had with both stories, Samarasan is a writer fully in control of her craft) and the Zed Adam Idris story, "Batu Belah", which reminded me a bit of Geoff Ryman. Creepy robot monkeys and sticky human-ish relationships. Also totally random endings!

I hope there are mor
Dec 24, 2011 rated it liked it
I don't remember many Malaysian tales, and I had only ever been exposed to a few of them in my literature classes in school. Some of the stories in this collection became familiar as I read on, but for many, I was reading them as if for the first time. I think I would appreciate these retold stories more if I knew the original tales first - which I am now more curious to find out about! My favourites from this collection included Si Tanggang, Endless Night, Bawang Puteh, Bawang Merah and The Pro ...more
Feb 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Good attempt to bring back the Malaysian folktales in new styles/era/added twist from different ideas of several writers. Some were powerful and give new good vibes compared to the old stories. I especially love The Boy Who Save Singapore, Bawang Putih Bawang Merah and Mahsuri. Reading this, makes me want to reread the old version again, as some I already forget how it were told.

and the book cover cantik gila.
Suri Kempe
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Some of the stories are beautifully rethought and retold, and i enjoyed those a lot. Others I thought were a little flat. But overall, its a must read, especially if you love your fair share of local tales.
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: folklore, legend
Sixteen tales, fourteen authors, one culture, all united in demonstrating the vitality of narrative traditions from the Malay peninsula. Drawing from myth, folklore, legend and oral history, these are refurbished tales in distinctive voices with individual tones, approaches and narrative styles. A few are straightforward retellings but most spin their stories--as all creative writings do--to give them contemporary relevance, either through placing them in modern contexts or drawing out themes la ...more
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
A creative and interesting adaptation to folklores from Malay Peninsula and Singapura. I was a tad bit confused with a few but particularly enjoyed the notes by the authors at the end of each tale of their motivation behind their selection of the fable and the twist in the tale.
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Just, what the hell?
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
When putting new spins on old folktales or myths the story should be able to stand on its own, with or without prior knowledge of the source material, such as Angela Carter's feminist reinterpretations of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. None of these stories stand on their own, which is a pity.

I am aware that the editor makes it clear that this collection is not strictly for children but it's still too lightweight for adults.
Quite an interesting read. Some of the tales are popular, but most of them I haven't read (or heard)before.

There are some editorial errors. For example in 'The Boy who Saved Singapura' by Kee Thuan Chye, there are two paragraphs with the same words. Somebody forgot to delete one. But overall I like the book.
Zach Liang-
Jun 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1
This is one of my top books for Malaysia that inspired me to write stories.

You can read my full comment in my general blog at
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
some of the stories were a little clunky or suss but they all held my interest. I particularly enjoyed Preeta Samarasan's two contributions and I will definitely check out more of her writing. also gets points for having a number of stories centering queer relationships. ...more
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