#SFATW: Malaysia – A Bookish Guide

sfatw-malaysia-a-book-guideHi, everyone! It’s another #SFATW post! Souvenirs From Across the World is hosted by Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books. You can join too, just check out the info here.

This time, we’re talking about books! Let me be frank and tell you straight up that I know little to nothing about Malaysian books. We read a few literature books in class but those either aren’t from Malaysia or weren’t really interesting. In case you were wondering, for English classes, we read abridged version of Robinson Crusoe, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and the Pearl, along with assorted poems and shorter works. But for the purposes of this post, I did a little research and manage to dig up some works from Malaysian authors that I’ve never read but I thought were interesting.


The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng

I found out about this book from Olivia @ Rainbow of Books. It’s an award winning novel by Cape Town based Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng. You’ll notice a lot of the authors are based elsewhere. Anyway, the book tells the story of Yun Ling Teoh set just before and after World War II. After her release from an internment camp, she decides to fulfill her late sister’s wish of building a Japanese garden in their home. She finds the legendary gardener Nakamura Aritomo and learns gardening from him, despite her misgivings about the Japanese, and having to deal with the rise of communism in Malaysia. All the while, she’s also fighting off oncoming aphasia, which causes her language capabilities to slowly deteriorate.


The Kampung Boy by LAT

The Kampung Boy (Village Boy) is a graphic novel which is one of the more popular works in Malaysia. It’s kinda like Malaysia’s own Calvin and Hobbes. It started off as a newspaper strip in 1975. It tells the story of Lat, a young boy growing up in a village, and follows him as he goes through day to day life. It gives a taste of a Malaysian kampung boy’s life.


Salina by A. Samad Said

A. Samad Said is one of the leading writers in Malaysia and he usually writes in Malay. Salina is a translated work. It is set in a post-World War II Singapore and follows Siti Salina, a young woman who is forced to work as an escort to survive. She lives together with her boyfriend, which is extremely taboo at the time. It tells the story of poverty and falling morals in a society trying to rebuild after war.


The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

Yangsze Choo is a (I wanna say American-based) Malaysian author and Harvard graduate. The Ghost Bride tells the story of a young lady, Li Lan, who marries into the Lim family to help get her family out of poverty. There’s just one catch, she’s marrying a dead man. Soon she finds herself haunted by his ghost and is drawn into the afterlife every night, and in the mornings she finds herself attracted to the Lims new heir Tian Bai. She is guided by a mysterious spirit called Er Lang and must uncover the truth about the Lim family before she is trapped in the ghostly world forever.


Evening is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarasan

Preeta Samarasan is an American-based Malaysian author. She wrote Evening is the Whole Day, which tells the story of the Rajasekharan family and their rubber plantation. The story focuses on Aasha’s life as a series of recent events have created much upheaval in her life, with her grandmother mysteriously dying, her older sister leaving for school and a servant girl dismissed for unnamed crimes. The story skips back and forth from present day to the past, starting from Aasha’s grandfather’s rise from coolie to becoming the owner of the Big House on Kingfisher Lane, as the secrets of the family are slowly uncovered.


The Throne of Ledang by Iskandar Al-Bakri

In 1488, the Sultan of Malacca sent a delegation to Mount Ledang, seeking to marry the Princess after hearing of tales of her legendary beauty. He is given several tasks to fulfill, including building a golden bridge connecting Ledang to Malacca and a cup of royal blood. He completes all the task given to him, including killing his son to deliver the royal blood but the Princess refused to marry a man who would murder his own son.

In 1875, two secret societies battle it out to find the lost golden bridge in an effort to control the entire Malayan Peninsula. And two young hearts, a rope maker, Izz and a slave, Purnama joins in the chase for a legendary site that would change their life forever.


Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Zen Cho is a London based Malaysian author and she does speculative fiction!! Finally! Her achievements are pretty impressive too, published by Ace and nominated for the Locus Award for Best First Novel and the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Good company to be in, with alumni like Brandon Sanderson and George R.R. Martin.

Sorceror to the Crown tells the story of Zacharis Wythe, a Sorceror Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers as he tries to figure out why Britain’s magical stocks are drying up and ventures to the borders of Fairyland. There he comes in contact with an unusual comrade, a woman with immense powers, and he sets on a path which would alter the nature of magic in Britain and the rest of the world.

Sidenote: That cover totally fooled me into thinking it was set in an East Asian setting. They should have gotten a better cover.


KL Noir: Red edited by Amir Muhammad

KL Noir: Red is a collection of 14 short stories written by various local authors about the dark side of the country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur. The stories ranges from murder, kidnapping, gangsters, political corruption, police brutality and even cannibalism.


Cyberpunk: Malaysia edited by Zen Cho

Cyberpunk Malaysia is a collection of 14 cyberpunk short stories written by Malaysian authors. It’s one of the few (if not the only) science fiction anthology from Malaysia. I’m super interested in it. Plus the cover is kind of interesting, it basically a piece of glossy card.

And those are some of the books I’ve managed to dug up. It’s not a really comprehensive guide to Malaysia literature as much as a list of books written by Malaysian authors that I’m interested in. Hope you enjoyed reading this post and let me know your thoughts on the books in this list, especially if you’ve read them 🙂



5 thoughts on “#SFATW: Malaysia – A Bookish Guide

  1. Pingback: #SFATW: a French bookish guide | Drizzle & Hurricane Books

  2. The Kampung Boy looks like something I’d love to read! In Latin America, we have Mafalda, which sounds very similar. Although it isn’t published in Brazil, I’ve read many Mafalda stories and they’re absolutely amazing. It is a very witty and simple way of describing social problems.
    I also loved the plot for Evening is the Whole Day – it looks like a contemporary book I’d definitely pick up. Family problems, self-discovery and a cute cover: aka my favorite combo, hahah.
    The Throne of Ledang also sounds amazing! I love stories involving royalty and the cover is very aesthetically pleasing as well.
    Thanks for sharing your list, Jamie!


  3. I’ve been searching for KL Noir everywhere since it appeared on the Top 10 books in the Star. I wanted to read the Ghost Bride too, the story sounds enticing. Great list!


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