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Tan Twan Eng gets published.

A bit old this, but Susan Abraham reports that a Malaysian writer has successfully had his book accepted by Gregory & Company, a British literary agency, and the book has already been sold to a publisher, Myrmidon Press.

Tan Twan Eng's debut novel, The Gift of Rain, concerns a young half-chinese boy, Philip, who meets a Japanese diplomat on the eve of World War II. Due to his mixed parentage, he is considered an outsider by his peers. But Philip finds a true sense of belonging with his new friend, Hayato Endo, who teaches him about Japanese culture and the martial art of aikido. But when the war starts, his friend proves to be a spy and Philip is put in a dangerous situation to protect his family. Expect the book sometime in autumn this year.

Wonder how much Tan got for his advance? Tee hee!

Actually, I'm wondering more about the reason why Malaysian writers like to set their books during the Japanese Invasion. It's great and all, and I'm not yawning over that particular period just yet, but I have a feeling we'll be beating this horse long past it's expiry date. Catharsis is good, I know--and I'm going a little into rant mode here--but I do hope future Malaysian books will be a little more diverse in their settings. And I don't mean John Ling diverse. I mean I would prefer other aspects of Malaysian society being shown. Bonus points if it is contemporary. (Should I wish for a sci-fi story too? Not sure if I want to tread down that path just yet...)

In any case, I wish Tan Twan Eng the best of writer's luck. If he does a reading in KL, I'm there!

Here are some links for you to peruse:


  1. Interestingly, I did try something with postmodern Malaysian flavour. Just uploaded this:

  2. Great story! I really liked your use of imagery. Very visual. Thanks for the read!

    But John, I've got to be honest with you: the story is post-modern maybe, but Malaysian? I don't think I can agree with you on that. Sure, I can see it happening in Malaysia, but problem is, I can also see it happening anywhere else too. Florence comes to mind. (Dunno why really, s'not like there's glass and steel there, but it sure has a heck of a view from a hill. Anyway, I digress.)

    What I want to read from Malaysian writers is a story I know can only happen in Malaysia (and not Malaya), or has characters I know are truly Malaysian, or they do or say Malaysian things. Y'know, things like that.

    But that's just a rant of mine. I like your stuff really. Hehe.

  3. I understand what you mean. =)

    I can't speak for all Malaysian writers, but I did try once to write a novel about the Malaysian underworld.

    Unfortunately, I got not-too-subtle hints from the powers-that-be that I was making 'them' look bad. For example, exploring the issue of police corruption in Malaysia.

    Now, I'm an obscure writer and I don't think that many people read me. Still, it was creepy knowing that THEY were taking an interest in me.

    So, yes, it's far safer to write in metaphors, or better yet, to write about Malaya rather than Malaysia. =)

    Just my personal experience.

  4. Ugh. Censorship reas its ugly head once again. I understand.

  5. Only about a year behind with a comment but found this whilst searching for info on Tan Twan Eng. I'm currently reading a preview copy of The Gift of Rain and it is utterly brilliant so far.

  6. Good to know! I've heard similar comments from other readers too. Thanks for visiting.


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