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Faisal Tehrani on English Novels in HSKU.

Faisal Tehrani, prize-winning author of novels like "1511H (Kombat)", "Advencer Si Peniup Ney" and his most recent work, "Surat-surat Perempuan Johor", spoke of his thoughts on the introduction of the English Novel category in the Utusan Group Literature Prize (HSKU) in the Sunday edition of Kosmo! recently:
"Nilai tradisi bahasa dan sastera yang kita ada pada masa ini perlu terus dipelihara. Sudah 21 tahun Hadiah Sastera Utusan mengagungkan sastera Melayu dan ini suatu yang membanggakan dan patut dipertahankan," ujar [Faisal Tehrani].

Lantaran itu berhubung anugerah novel bahasa Inggeris dalam Hadiah Sastera Utusan yang baru diwujudkan mulai tahun ini, Faisal mencadangkan supaya ia diadakan secara berasingan, atau dengan kata lain, diwujudkan suatu majlis anugerah khas lain.

"Saya bukan anti bahasa Inggeris, tetapi selama ini, Hadiah Sastera Utusan cukup dikenali sebagai anugerah sastera yang memartabatkan bahasa Melayu. Saya kira, karya-karya Inggeris kalau ada yang teruja sangat dan rasa perlu sangat diberikan maruah serta pengiktirafan biarlah dalam satu majlis khusus yang berasingan, jangan campur," ujarnya.

(Excerpt found towards the end of this article, conveniently posted on Faisal's blog.)
Which translates into:
"The value of language and literature that we have now must continue to be preserved. It has been twenty-one years that the Utusan Literature Prize has revered Malay literature and this is something that is honourable and must be maintained," [Faisal Tehrani] says.

Because of that, regarding the English novel category in the Utusan Literature Prize that was added starting this year, Faisal suggests that it be held separately, or in other words, create another special prize ceremony.

"I'm not against the English language, but all this while, the Utusan Literature Prize has been renown as the literature prize that esteems the Malay language. I think, these English writings, if there are those who get too excited about them and feel that they really need to be honoured and recognised, let it be in a separate ceremony, don't mix them," he says.


  1. Now I understand why I had this feeling of the inaugural event being played down and a little chill in the air at the awards.

  2. Ted,

    I believe Faisal has no ill feelings towards fellow English writers. He just wanted to vent his frustations towards the present and future condition of Malay literature.

    At the moment, Utusan is the only media who has been rigorously supporting the Malay literature.

    I believe, being Malaysian, and Bahasa Malaysia as our national language,it is also our duty to support Malay literatures by buying the books.

  3. Cean: I wouldn't worry about it too much. Some people are just concerned about the Malay language, that's all.

    What's important is you're among the pioneer prize winners of the English category of HSKU. There might not even be an english category next year, if enough people kick up a fuss. *shrug shrug*

    Jiwa Rasa: Yes, I believe that too. I admire Faisal's writings and I think his worries that Utusan might slack a little in supporting Malay literature is justified. However, I do not think he has cause for concern as I believe Utusan will still strongly uphold Bahasa Melayu, as a language "yang terulung".

    I agree that we must support Malay Lit if we're Malaysian. In fact, I would suggest not only buying the books but also the lit magazines such as Dewan Sastera and Tunas Cipta to show your support. But I do believe literature is literature, no matter what language it is in. It is as simple as that.


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