Marc Faoite's Reviews > KL NOIR: YELLOW

KL NOIR by Kris Williamson
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(Disclaimer - Fixi Novo is the publisher of my collection of short stories Tropical Madness and has also featured stories of mine in several other collections of short stories, including KL Noir Red, the first in the KL Noir series)

So the series draws to an end with KL Noir Yellow, the fourth and final collection of short stories based in and around Malaysia's capital city Kuala Lumpur, more frequently abbreviated to KL (or to the infuriation of some of my readers - Kay El).

This one is a strong collection with many new and authentic voices and unlike the previous tomes in the series is utterly devoid of typos or spelling mistakes - not a single one that I could spot, which is quite an accomplishment, so kudos to editor Kris Williamson on that.

One of my favourite parts of the book was Kris's introduction, particularly the fact that he draws attention to the arbitrary manner in which the Sedition Act is being used to attempt to silence even the mildest expressions of dissent.

Several of the authors in this collection have also bravely raised their voices against the endemic corruption, moral laxity and double standards of modern Malaysia. I think many young (and not so young) Malaysian readers will be reassured by some of the ire that is vented.

I won't attempt to go through the book story by story, but will just mention the stories that particularly impressed me.

Chong Jay Vee's TRAP opens the collection and sets the tone for the rest of the collection. It is lean, violent and in your face.

I've had the chance to read Leroy Luar's work elsewhere and I really enjoyed his writing style in CONTRAIL (though the ending was perhaps a little inconclusive).

In her story ANAI Wong Pek Mei tells a no-holds-barred unflinching account of a sexually abused young girl married off to her abuser for cash. If the purpose of writing (or any art) is to hold up a mirror to society then the image reflected here is an ugly one indeed. The real tragedy of this story is that it is repeated over and over again in real life Malaysia. A story worth telling and one that needs to be heard, rather than swept under the carpet.

Zufar Ismail Zaid's story BREAKING POINT is one of the best written in the entire 4 books in the KL Noir series. The anger is palpable. While a few, just a very few of the stories featured in KL Noir yellow are a bit plodding and demand the reader's stamina to stay with and not skip to the next story there is no such problem with BREAKING POINT. Tight, taut and well-paced. A writer to watch.

GIRL POWER by Subashini Navaratnam is outstanding and definitely in my top three favourites in this collection. Okay, maybe this was my favourite. I would definitely like to read more of her writing.

Though there are one or two of the tales in KL Noir Yellow which could have made better stories if they had been worked on more, the vast majority of the stories here are great. These 16 stories show the Malaysia that I know and see, rather than some fantasy Wunmeuhletsseeland the propagandists would have us believe exists.
Malaysia is on the brink of something, teetering in an alarming manner, close to toppling off a precipice from which there is no way back. It will take some hard steps up a steep hill to get to a more stable footing and loud and strong voices to shout down the haters who thrive on racial discord and repression. Reading these stories, mostly from young Malaysians, restores my faith that there are sane voices out there, voices that need to be heard with stories that need to be told, and if Malaysia’s best-seller lists are anything to go by, thanks to the good ship FIXI and its indefatigable helmsman Amir Muhammad are most definitely being told and read.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
December 24, 2014 – Shelved
December 24, 2014 – Finished Reading

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message 1: by Peter (new)

Peter Brown I felt this review was a bit disappointing. The author is too pre-occupied with politics to really have a look at the writing in this very fine collection. Almost all the stories "work" in the sense that what happens is plausible and convincing. Only 2 did not. There is even some pathos and compassion in this collection which does not normally occur in Noir literature (viz that wonderful piece "The Lost Pilgrim"). Anyway the collection was a thoroughly enjoyable read and Fixi has to be congratulated for 4 volumes of good standard stories


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