Book Review: The Principal Girl

Principal Girl cover (18Feb2019)

THE PRINCIPAL GIRL: FEMINIST TALES FROM ASIA

Edited by Sharifah Aisha Osman and Tutu Dutta

Publisher: Gerakbudaya

Having curated and edited two collections of Malaysian short stories, I am aware that it’s not an easy task to produce a book in which the stories are of a consistent quality. Unfortunately, we do not (as yet) have a large enough pool of experienced and talented writers to produce enough well-written stories (especially in English) to fill an anthology. Still, this shouldn’t deter anyone from planning to collect and publish short stories by local writers. However, it should be stressed that such endeavours take time and patience to complete, and may leave those in the editing/publishing roles with their sanity in shreds. Nevertheless, I learnt a lot from editing the anthologies Malaysian Tales: Retold & Remixed and Remang and both experiences were ultimately rewarding and enriching. I hope this was also the case for Sharifah Aisha Osman and Tuty Dutta, the editors of The Principal Girl.Read More »

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Caturday: Spirit Tigers

There is a story (from my soon-to-be-published collection), in which five spirit tigers are accidentally summoned by someone playing a YouTube recording of a spell.

Tigers

This picture, by Steve Simpson, reminds me of my spirit tigers. However, in my story, one of the tigers is a disembodied head — the spell is incomplete and she does not manifest completely.

(This is actually a mural for a Korean restaurant and you can see sketches by the artist at his Behance site.)

The Caine Prize for African Writing 2016: Lidudumalingani

Lidudumalingani (Photo credit: bb.co.uk)
Lidudumalingani
(Photo credit: bb.co.uk)

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.

Read Brittle Paper’s interview with the author go here, and the winning story, as well as all the shortlisted stories here.

Book Review: What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

what is not yours 2First 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 »

Book Review: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu

paper menagerieFirst 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.

Read More »