When people say reading is a dying culture in Malaysia, I beg to differ.
The book-loving community in Malaysia has been growing for a while now (Big Bad Wolf book sales, anyone???
the crazy mobs of people)
But the bigger problem here that can’t be ignored is that Malaysian lit doesn’t get enough rep.
Accompanying that, plenty of Malaysians tend to be cynical about whatever comes out of this country (i dont fully blame them) but in the context of literature, I’ll have to disagree with that notion.
Granted, the local literature scene is still growing at a rate slower than what we would like. Or maybe, a lot of us, like me (who was exposed to mostly western pop culture growing up) are just unaware of appreciating and supporting local art until some switch in you flips on.
So, in true Buzzfeed spirit (hah), here’s a short list of Malaysian lit for you to get a taste of Malaysia if you’re international, or if you’re Malaysian—here’s to rediscovering (and supporting) local work!
How can this be a Malaysian post on local works without the mention of Lat? I’ll admit I didn’t read this particular graphic novel of his (and he’s done tons), but growing up in Malaysia, you can’t really miss any of his cartoon strips. They’re down-to-earth and just the right dose of humour. His art transcends generations you guys—even my mom grew up reading his comics, so really, what chu waiting for?
C. W. Kee’s cartoon strips are one of my favourites to read because he so accurately captures the essence of Malaysian life in just 2 panels. They’re witty, exaggerating and most importantly, relatable. His art is published every day in the Star2 section of our local English newspaper (you guessed it, it’s The Star) (i feel so repetitive) but even if you’re not subscribed to the newspaper, you can always have a good laugh, FOC, right here.
Sunday Starters by Soo Ewe Jin
This one, I’m sure, speaks to plenty of us on a deeper level. Sunday Starters is a compilation of the late Star columnist, Soo Ewe Jin. His weekly column featured him talking about the simplest things in life and yet he managed to spin them through his own perspective in the most engaging voice. Soo’s work is all kinds of refreshing and humbling. His writing doesn’t tell you to stop and smell the flowers, he urges you and makes you want to do it.
Here’s an excerpt from one of his articles on unsung heroes:
“All of us are heroes in our own right when we choose to do things the right way, lend a hand to someone in need or make contributions for the common good. If we want to make a difference, we do not need the world to applaud our every move. If we sow good seeds, the fruits of our labour will bloom one day and be harvested by those who come after us.”
Unfortunately, this book has been out of print since 2015, but fear not—you can access his published articles under the column titled ‘Sunday Starters’ here.