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New on the shelf

Anakara House
RM 36.00

In his second book, Matthew Thomas regales us with a diasporic odyssey, complete with the intrigues, guilt, machinations and expectations experienced by uprooted communities seeking to establish themselves in new and not always hospitable surroundings.

The past is another country, a necessary memory that is part of a sense of identity, re-invented as a rosy romantic myth, albeit distant in space and time. People begin their diasporic lives with a future of returning to their homeland in mind, while their children grow up in a different culture, spawning new hybridities and value systems.

In Anakara House, the author brilliantly depicts this diasporic feeling of rootlessness among so many families and communities, and how this condition of alienation, where the present in the foreign country continues to be unfamiliar or estranged, creates a sense of cognitive dissonance. The novel is about generations of people, particularly in Asia, uprooted from their homelands, dispersed by European colonial intrusion, who look back at the inauthenticity of their roots despite folklore and oral tradition romanticising the land of their forefathers. This canvas of sorrow and yearning is beautifully encapsulated in this story of one Indian family and their link to a piece of ancestral property in Malabar.

Anakara House reflects common human frailties: desire, guilt, envy, jealousy, vanity, hatred, deceit, infidelity and disloyalty. The author shows how these passions play out through a series of intrigues.

The story is about a dream to return to the country of origin, by those who left for one reason or another. There is constant yearning to re-establish deeply felt links with a past that no longer exists, except in memory. Like the past, Anakara House died when it came into being, except in the memories of the characters who imagined it. This book reflects the realities of millions of people who still cherish the hope of returning to their roots someday, without realizing that there is no such possibility.

Anakara House poignantly shows how our realities are socially constructed through different lenses that keep changing as we journey through life, and, unwittingly, undergo massive social, cultural and spiritual transformation.

Dr Mohammad M Keshavjee
Lawyer, Author and International Specialist on Cross Cultural Mediation in Diasporic Communities



Anakara House

RM 36.00



The Shirley Lim Collection : Passports and Other Lives

RM 49.90



Monkey Magic : The Great Wall Mystery

RM 24.90



Diaspora

RM 155.00



Kemunculan Komunisme Indonesia

RM 89.00



The Sum of Our Follies

RM 36.00



Why JellyBeans are Colourful (Book + CD)

RM 25.00



Kacau

RM 19.90



Suspek

RM 19.90



Surat Untuk Anak

RM 30.00


Silverfish magazine
Opinion
Green coconuts
April 01, 2014

We have a housekeeper (who in theory comes on designated days and times in a week, but in practice comes any time she likes) who has a 14-year-old boy and two younger children. The older boy declared to her recently, "Amma, I don't think I need to go to school any more, or study." (He is already making RM1200.00 a month tutoring younger children.) So what are you going to do, his father asked. "Give me two green coconuts and I'm good," he replied.

Hey, that's creative, I thought. And funny. March has been a horrible month with everything in it: arrogant, posturing politicians; self-promoting civil servants; gross incompetence; exhibitionism; Israeli plots; Chinese scientists' plots; Afghanistan; the wrath of God for alcohol served on board; the wrath of God for an unfair Appeal's Court verdict; birthday cakes; one-ringgit chicken, and comic relief with jugglers and clowns ... wow, like a Hollywood blockbuster, only real and better.


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News
The greatest bookworms of them all
April 01, 2014

According to NOP World (a leading provider of syndicated and custom market research) individuals globally spent (each week) 16.6 hours watching television, 8 hours listening to the radio, 6.5 hours reading and 8.9 hours on computers/the internet (for non-work related reasons). (Source: PRNewswire)

I can hear it already: some of you are saying, "Is that all?", while some are going, "Oh my God."

Interestingly (Anglophiles take note) the US and UK are below average (5.7 and 5.3 hours per week) in reading, but above the average on TV viewing (19 hours per week in the US and 18 in the UK), listening to the radio (10.2 hours per week in the US and 10.5 in the UK), and just slightly below the global average for computer/Internet usage (8.8 hours per week in both the US and UK).


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News
Short-stay scholarships from Mexico
April 01, 2014

(Received this from the embassy and is reproduced -- almost -- verbatim)

The Embassy of Mexico has the pleasure to announce that the 2014 Special Program of Scholarships for Foreigners is open for applications in the following categories:
• Visiting professors
• High level conferences
• Mexican Studies
• Artistic Residencies
• Media Residencies
• Studies to improve the Quality of Mexican Medium and Higher Education Institutions

Convinced that this Program is a valuable opportunity for strengthening the Cultural, Academic and Intellectual exchange between Mexico and Malaysia, the Embassy of Mexico respectfully recommends this information to be widely disseminated in your institution, or advertised through the channels available to you.


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Events
Book event: The Sum of Our Follies
April 01, 2014

Yes, we are not calling it a book launch (it is such a cliche), but a book event. Shih-Li will talk about the process of writing her book, which she says took longer than she expected. We can imagine the process and thoroughly enjoyed editing her work (which turned out to be minimal). No sledgehammer work here, nor slash and burn.

Details:

Speaker: Shih-Li Kow (Author)
Venue: Silverfish Books, 28-1 Jalan Telawi, Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-228 448 37
Date and time: Saturday, 12 April 2014, 5.30pm.
Admission is free.


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Events
Rabindranath Tagore book event by Prof Dr MA Quayum
April 01, 2014

(This event is in early May, but I may not have enough time to send out the mailers before that because I will be back from the US just then.)

Speaker: Prof Dr MA Quayum (of the International Islamic University Malaysia)
Venue: Silverfish Books, 28-1, Jalan Telawi, Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur
Date and Time: Saturday, 3 May, 2014 at 5.30 pm
Admission is free.

The book, The Ruined Nest and other stories was planned to be released in 2013, 100 years after Rabindranath Tagore's Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. But Prof Quayum, the perfectionist that he is, decided it would be better to publish a good book late than rush one out that we're not fully satisfied. This is in full agreement with the ethos of Silverfish Books. The date for the book event was not picked accidentally, as the 153rd anniversary of Tagore's birthday would fall on 7 May, 2014.


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Opinion
USA, here I come!
February 15, 2014

My visa interview was for 10.00am. I had picked that time slot to avoid the rush hour, which I did, but took a wrong turn and went into KLCC instead. But my GPS guided me back. So it was 9.45 by the time I got to the guardhouse to the 'forbidden city', which is what most people I have asked consider the US Embassy on Jalan Tun Razak to be.

Before I could join a visible short queue, the guard on duty, Clement, asked, "What time is your interview, sir?"

"Ten."

"You can go to the counter with your documents, then," he smiled.

"Don't I have to queue?"

"For you special, sir," he grinned. I learned that the queue I saw from a distance was for entering the premises, which was after showing the guard my appointment letter.


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News
Volunteers to read to children
February 28, 2014

LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS WHO LOVE TO READ TO CHILDREN

About: Promoting literacy and creativity among underprivileged children in Malaysia via rotating mini libraries and volunteer reading programmes
Description: The Revolving Library is a social initiative to provide underprivileged children in Malaysia access to a massive collection of children's books.
The project: launched in March 2012, is based on the concept of rotating mini libraries. The idea was inspired by the collaborative consumption movement.

Each new orphanage/shelter/centre on the TRL circuit receives a mini library of about 50 to 100 books. These mini libraries will be moved from one home to another every two to three months, giving the children at each home the opportunity to read a wide selection of titles. Rotating the mini libraries also means that we get maximum mileage from each donated book and there is no need for a huge physical space to house the entire TRL collection.


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News
Frederic Grellier, French translator
February 27, 2014

It was the Friday afternoon at the Frankfurt Bookfair, the last day of the 'trade' component, when many people have their hair down and feet up, thinking of the flight home. Someone from the Malaysian stand where I chill out when I am winding down (and where I always feel welcomed), approached my table and said, "'Che Raman, ada orang mau jumpa," and ushered in two people, one of whom looked like he was visually impaired. They introduced themselves as Frederic and Christine, and explained that they had been sent over by my friend (and Sri Lankan publisher) Sam Perera whom they had visited earlier. We started talking and soon got carried away with mutual enthusiasm for all things concerning books, reading and publishing, while Christine was patiently indulgent.

Frederic Grellier has been a professional literary translator for twenty years, having rendered into French some fifty crime novels, mainly American and British. I didn't know it when we met at Frankfurt, but I found out later when I watched his video on TedxTalks that he lost his sight very gradually, and also late. (I couldn't help thinking of Borges, whose loss of sight coincided with his appointment as the head of the Argentine National Library!)


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News
Children's Book Awards by Scholastic
February 19, 2014

Scholastic is pleased to announce our sixth annual Scholastic Writers’ Award. This Award is a writing competition for those who love to use words creatively, for those who want to share ideas, and for those who love to tell stories. It provides a unique opportunity for schools to showcase their students’ achievements, encourages youths to write, and gives young writers a chance to realise their talent.

Students aged 10 to 18 are invited to submit an original short story from the title choices listed in the contest form. This writing competition previously exclusive only to our Scholastic Book Clubs members has a growing reputation and strong support among students and teachers who have been involved in past years. For the first time, we are opening the competition to all schools in Malaysia and Singapore.

The 2014 Scholastic Writers Award offers an Apple iPad 16GB with Wi-Fi for Grand Prize winners (x2), USD200 for First Runners-up (x2), and USD100 for Second Runners-up (x2).


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Events
Silverfish Public Talk -- March 2014
February 28, 2014

Topic: Uneasy Alliances, Writers and the University: A Report from Both Sides of the (Diasporic) Border by Shirley Lim Venue: Silverfish Books Sdn Bhd, 28-1, Jalan Telawi, Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-22844837 Date & time: Saturday, 15 March, 2014 at 5.30pm An abstract by Ms Lim says: "While writing is often constructed as a solitary endeavour undertaken by an individual talent, works of literature, particularly contemporary fiction and poetry, achieve their reputation and after-life through the circuits of public reception, often with academics and scholars as gatekeepers. This talk looks at the cognitive dissonance, complicity and negotiations undertaken in that relationship in the U.S., and asks what and why is the state of that relationship in Malaysia."

Okay. If that was a mouthful, Shirley clarifies: This will NOT be an academic paper with endless citations, but an Alice through the Looking Glass, let's go down that rabbit hole together evening ...


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Events
The Shirley Lim writing workshop is here again
February 06, 2014

This is the third time we are holding a writing workshop by Shirley Lim. The last two were sold very quietly. She is a very good teacher indeed.

Sources, Selves and Stories: Mimesis and Mirrors. Silverfish 2014 Writers Workshop, facilitator Shirley Geok-lin Lim.
Sunday, March 16, 2014, 9.30am -- 5.00pm. (One-day workshop)
Fee: MYR: 400.00 (Earlybird fee of MYR360.00 will apply to fully paid registrations before 5 March 2014)
Limited to 16 participants.
Registration link: http://www.silverfishbooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=13&products_id=1987

The day’s prompt is writing on what you know, what you see, what you don’t know, and what others see. The time is dedicated to generating writing as content and as literary stylistics. The workshop is structured as quadrants, with individual, small group and whole workshop activities.


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Stories and essays
The Postmaster -- story from The Ruined Nest
February 28, 2014

Soon after his appointment, the postmaster was sent for duty to the village of Ulapur. It was an ordinary village. There was an Indigo factory nearby and, using his influence, its English proprietor had managed to get a post office established in the village.

Being from the city of Kolkata, our postmaster found himself like a fish out of water in his new rustic surrounding. His office was in a dingy cabin house, adjacent to a slimy pond filled with water-hyacinth and surrounded by bushy trees on all four sides. The employees of the factory had little upbringing or free time to associate with this gentleman.

The urban-bred young man was also lacking in social skills. Whenever he went to a new place, he looked either confused or arrogant, and could barely interact with the villagers. On the other hand, he didn’t have much work at office, either. Occasionally he wrote poetry expressing a romantic sentiment of happiness at the sight of floating clouds and fluttering shrubs, but God knew that if some genie from the Arabian tales came and transformed the bushes into paved roads overnight and built high rises that kept the clouds out of sight, then this emotionally flagging sensitive person’s life would be revived again.


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