Shih-Li just keeps getting better and better. In her first full book of short stories (which, incidentally has been nominated for the Commonwealth Writer's Prize in the First Book category), Shih Li's delicate touch and turn of phrase continues. She says she loves writing and obviously means it. She will not let any excuse get in the way of her passion. She holds a full time job working six days a week, and is a loving single mother with a ten-year-old.
Selalunya saya takut untuk baca tulisan penulis-penulis Malaysia dalam Bahasa Inggeris. Acapkali saya menganggap mereka representasi kepada elit Malaysia yang bourgeois lagi kaya-raya, yang kemungkinan besar cuma menulis tentang first world problem mereka. Dan saya takkan minta maaf untuk beranggapan macam itu.
Ripples, syukur pada Tuhan bukan saja fasal first world problem. Cerita-ceritanya merentas kelas, bangsa dan jantina dalam masyarakat. Walaubagaimanapun, cerita-cerita dari golongan marhaen (pekerja kilang, orang gaji Indonesia), pada saya masih belum cukup convincing. Cerita-cerita yang melekat dalam kotak fikir saya pula banyak bertemakan the good old days Malaysiana. Kalau tuan/puan ada membaca Preeta Samarasan, Evening is the Whole Day, mungkin boleh dikesan persamaannya di situ.
Shih-Li Kow menulis dengan elok, sepertimana yang boleh diharapkan dari Silverfish, dan berjaya menancapkan perhatian bila-bila saya membacanya (tapi sudah lumrah saya ini membaca serupa siput.). Ada juga cerita-ceritanya yang pendek-pendek saja tapi ada bisa. Ini saya suka sebab ia menunjukkan kemahiran menulis yang tinggi.
Ripples memang boleh baca, dan mungkin ada yang seronok membacanya tapi kalau anda terkesan dengan perubahan politik, ekonomi dan sosial masyarakat sekarang mungkin akan ada suatu rasa mual membaca satu dua ceritanya.
This is an unapologetic and eclectic collection of Malaysiana stories, largely about the ordinary and the mundane. Not only aee the individual stories fun to read, but the stories are interconnected and I enjoy finding the threads that connect different stories together. The collection lacks the superficial edginess and sugarcoating that typically makes Malaysiana cloying or seem trying too hard.
If you like short story collections, you need to pick this up! I adored all the interconnected stories in here, especially with their dark humor, fabulism, and focus on Malaysian culture & issues. I discussed this book in depth with Freddie @ Sluggish Reader in a video discussion, so check that out if you want to hear more about what made us love this collection so much.
On one hand, I'm not a huge fan of this kind of writing. By themselves, each short story seems to be a rather banal slice of life that doesn't quite lead anywhere. There's some drama in a few of them, but in a majority of the stories, it's just a thing that happened, something that's being told; there's no inherent conflict, no quick emotional hit that we tend to look for in a short story. This thing happened, so-and-so said something, the end.
And yet, there is a certain something about the way Kow weaves the compilation together, centred around a few key characters and their families. Each person's actions, each person's story creates ripples that affect the next. The POVs shift, identities are sometimes unclear. Despite the utter normalcy and banality, there's a lingering mystery that draws the reader to want to go back and read it again to figure out where the interconnections are made, where the ripples were formed and how far they stretched. Did this thing referenced in this story really...? Is this the same person that...?
The language is fluid and beautiful; it's not the stiltedly polished English we tend to get in Malaysian literature (can you tell I'm jaded yet?). Instead, it's a true reflection of our tongues and inflections, the mix of languages that make up our everyday lives.
Ripples and Other Stories is unapologetically Malaysian in setting and in tone and definitely deserves a closer read.
I learnt of Shih-Li Kow from a short story of hers called 'Golden Boys' and was taken in by the casual observation of problematic behaviours (in Malaysia). There were no judgment and merely a telling of a story, which led me to seek out more of her works.
As an unabashedly Malaysian book, I enjoyed it a lot in its unpretentiousness; as other reviewers have mentioned, the interlinking stories made everything more fascinating - perhaps it reminds me a bit of how learning about your neighbours' lives fleshes them out more as people with depth.
There were a story or two where I don't see how it fits into the rest of the book, and a few where I wished could be continued. While also entertaining, it had the same unflinching observation of ordinary lives here as it had in 'Golden Boys' and coming from the same culture, it was relatable and quite familiar. I'm particularly drawn to her portrayal of women; how they navigate cultural expectations albeit it's often not questioned, but seeds of discontent were felt.
First of all, I like the author's creativity in "linking" the characters from the previous story to the next one, thus shifting reader's perspective from one point to another. Characters & story arcs are well developed using overt descriptive terms and phrases. I like Deep Fried Devils, The Courting of Cik Zahirah & Dividing Walls. Some stories are difficult to finish in a day and the rest are just fine.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Ripples - like ripples in water, one small action stirs up another and another, from one person to another, these interconnected stories crossed all levels of society and even the realms of the spiritual. I have not enjoyed a local anthology more than this.
Shih-Li Kow is restrained in her use of language, seldom descending into frivolous descriptions for the sake of adding a superficial level of 'character' or 'colour' as quite a few M'sian writers writing in English are wont to do. Although some stories are perhaps more one-dimensional and less consequential there are a number of solid, well-written stories (IMO), such as Seeking Frangipani, Ripples, Know My Name, and Private Tuition.
Short stories with a local insight into Malaysian culture. Maybe some of the terms or dialects are less familiar to non-natives. I mean there are things that only a Malaysian would be able to interpret and digest.
I read this for my book project, it is an anthology, consisting different short stories of the Malaysian community. I liked some of the stories, and I liked the fact that they were sorta connected and so many plot-twists.