Lidudumalingani, from South Africa, has been announced the winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing 2016. His short story, Memories We Lost, was published in Incredible Journey: Stories That Move You (Burnet Media, South Africa, 2015). Lidudumalingani is also a filmmaker.
First published on 30th May, 2016 in The Star
WHAT IS NOT YOURS IS NOT YOURS
AUTHOR: Helen Oyeyemi
PUBLISHER: Picador, 22 pages
HELEN Oyeyemi’s stories never fail to surprise me. Just as some might expect certain kinds of characters, plots and themes from Asian authors, I have to admit that I tend to anticipate the shape and form of tales by African writers. A relatively new reader of Asian and African fiction, I still struggle with various preconceptions: Asian stories are inevitably and miserably tragic; African writing must reflect or be rooted in African life and culture. Complete nonsense, of course.Read More »
First published in The Star on 27th March, 2016
Review by DAPHNE LEE
THE PAPER MENAGERIE AND OTHER STORIES
Author: Ken Liu
Publisher: Saga Press, 464 pages
THE Grace of Kings was my introduction to Ken Liu. It’s the author’s first novel, published in 2015, and the first in a planned “silkpunk” (a variation of steampunk) fantasy series called The Dandelion Dynasty. Kings is a spectacular piece of entertainment – ambitious, original and memorable, the world-building impressive, the characters convincing and sympathetic, and the fantasy elements fresh and surprising.
The problem with discovering an author at the first-novel stage of their career is you usually are in an agony of anticipation, waiting for the next book to come out. Fortunately, in Liu’s case, there is a prodigious body of prior work in the shape of short stories, novellas and novelettes. On top of that Liu is the translator of Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem trilogy (the final book is out this September), the first volume of which was the first translated novel to win the Hugo Award (2015).
And then there’s this collection, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories. Comprising 15 stories of varying lengths, styles and genres (within the speculative fiction spectrum), it aims to showcase Liu’s development and achievements as a writer of short fiction, but must have been a b**** to compile considering the fact that he has published over 100 stories since 2002.
The inclusion of the titular tale would have, of course, been a no-brainer. In 2012 it won all three of the most prestigious of sci-fi/fantasy prizes: the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards), and it is easily one of my favourites in this compilation.
First published in The Star on 13th March, 2016
Review by DAPHNE LEE
AUTHOR: Chin Ai-May, Jenny Ng, Shazwani Abdul Kabur, Shazra Aishath, Tan Yet Mee, Teja Salehuddin Tan
PUBLISHER: Silverfish Books
TWENTY-FIFTEEN was a quiet year for Silverfish’s publishing arm. In January of that year, it produced Rumaizah Abu Bakar’s A Call to Travel. Bunga Emas, originally published in 1964, was re-issued mid-year, and in December, Faultlines, a collection of all-new short stories by six new writers, appeared. Of course, in the 10 months between the publication of the two Silverfish originals, the bookstore moved from Jalan Telawi to the Bangsar Village II shopping mall. No doubt that transition meant an adjustment period for all concerned, and an understandable slowing down in its publishing schedule.
In any case, Silverfish Books has never been the kind of publishing house that spits out books on a monthly basis, and to hell with whether what’s published is fit for print or not. With Silverfish, books are, at very least, edited and proofread – that’s what I’ve always believed in anyway.
That’s why I was very taken aback by Faultlines. This collection, comprising 24 stories, four from each of six writers (all alumni of Silverfish’s popular writing programme), is choc-a-bloc with grammatical errors, typos, inconsistent tenses, wrongly-used words, and other mistakes. Were these stories published in a hurry? They don’t seem to have been proofread, and I must say that most of them read like they’ve not been edited at all.
First published on 24th July, 2015 in The Star
Edited by Zen Cho
Publisher: Fixi NOVO
CYBERPUNK? What’s that?” That’s the question that usually follows once customers at the bookstore I work at stops oohing and ahhing over this collection’s silver foil cover. Not many Malaysians I know can define “cyberpunk”. Of those who can, a number probably have stories in this collection.
Cyberpunk, in case you’re wondering, is a subgenre of science fiction. With science fiction one tends to think “Robots! Spaceships! Star Trek!” – you get the idea. But cyberpunk?Read More »