Friday, December 08, 2006

Tash Aw doing Malaysia proud....

...but what do you really think of his book?

THE Harmony Silk Factory by Malaysia-born Tash Aw is among the 138 novels nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2007.

The first time novel – set in 1930s and 1940s Malaya – has already bagged numerous accolades including winning the 2005 Whitbread Book Award for First Novel and one of the 17 to make it to the long list of the 2005 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

The Harmony Silk Factory, nominated by the National Library of Malaysia, is told amidst the background of World War II, exposing the cultural tensions of the era. Others in the long list include works by many accomplished authors like Tariq Ali’s A Sultan in Palermo, Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down, Salman Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown, Amy Tan’s Saving Fish From Drowning, Paul Auster’s The Brooklyn Follies and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.

Yup! Tash is certainly doing Malaysia proud! You go, man!

Now, to ask you all a honest question. What did you really think of his book? Those who have read it, of course.

Me, I thought the first part was unputdownable fabulous. Then the 2nd part (that of Snow) was a little....hmmm...let's just say I didn't get into the character. (I think Tash writes men better than women). And the third part - I really thought it was too verbose and too filled with long digressions about gardening. But since I'm not literary and like my stories told straight without straying too much away from the beaten path (that is, that the story should matter most of all and not the flowery digression), it's just my taste.

Aside, I've been diagnosed with a benign tumor and have to have it taken out. Going off to another country for the consultation on Monday. Sigh. I did so want to finish writing Billy Lang (now in Chapter 23) this year too 
because my agent is so bugging me for the finished manuscript.  I really need an Englishman to beta all the English idioms and Cockney tongue later.

Also, my publisher reckons he might have sold 2000 copies of DC to the National Library (and its 200 branches nationwide), which makes it a total of 4500 copies sold so far. 2nd edition printing is due in Jan with a new cover. Ah! I can now totally pay for all your submissions to Dark City 2!


T. Halim said...

Read Tash Aw at the beginning of the year. My thoughts are the same as yours. The first part was great, then it lost its momentum . . . became too literary. But, nevertheless, he has done a wonderful job!

BTW I really liked Trashcan Child. I was left in deep thought for several minutes after finishing it.

Xeus said...

TH, you are back! I'm like what Lydia said - low-lit (low literature syndrome). You know what they always say - read low-lit, write low-lit.

I'm glad you like Trashcan Child. Did you see the twist coming? Do pick up a copy of the book. All stories contain what I mean by 'twists' in the tales. I really like reading and writing stuff about the meaning of religion, purgatory, what happens after death, parrelel worlds and all that stuff.

Want to do a twisty story in addition to 'Hawker Man' for DC2?

Lydia Teh said...

Xeus, I love the voice of Johnny, Snow was not too bad but Peter, urrggh! Bombastic fella, cannot tahan him.

Congrats on 2nd edition of DC. Way to go. Let us know how that consultation go. Hope that everything will be ok.

Xeus said...

Lydia, rest assured I will be back long enough to attend your book launch. It's a minor op, just very delicate and has to be done by a very experienced surgeon.

T. Halim said...

Xeus - riding on the back of your success, I've convinced Pelanduk to do a "greatest hits" of my short stories. Eric Forbes wants a couple of new stories so I've just completed the "title track" called 44 Cemetery Road and working on another one. If I get a burst of creativity I'd certainly like to do another tale for DC2!

Lydia - all the best for the book launch, I know how hairy these things can get. Wish I could make it but I'll only be in KL after XMas.

Anonymous said...

TH, that is so cool. Yes,a greatest hits is most appealing. I'm sure you can get a burst of creativity for DC2. If not, I have about 20 twisted plotlines for short stories waiting to be written, only I can't find the time. Very happy to give those plotlines to someone who can shell out something good from it.


Ted Mahsun said...

Xeus, good luck with your op!

I actually preferred Snow's part... but then I also thought the book was just... well, so-so.

T. Halim said...

Xeus, Wow! 20 plot lines . . . you must be a plot generating factory! How do you do it? Perhaps I can nick one of them for a DC2 story.

Hey, good luck on your op too . . . hope it all goes well.

Xeus said...

Thanks Ted! Op next Monday.

TH, any time. Just email me a line when you're ready and we'll discuss plot lines.

Lydia Teh said...

T. Halim, thanks for the well wishes. If you're around during a book signing later, it'll be so great if you could come.

Xeus, all the best for next Mon.

Xeus said...

Thanks Lydia. Argus is very likely coming for your launch.

Doey said...

Shhh... I haven't read his book. I'd fall asleep!

bibliobibuli said...

agree with you totally about tash's book. (and stop all that "i'm not literary" crap!)

here's the review i wrote for the star, and here's thor Kah Hoong's piece on the book.

the nomination for the IMPAC came only from one source - the malaysian national library. and really there weren't too many novels published in 2006! (bit the big question with the IMPAC is shouldn't libraries be voting for the best novel internationally rather than narrowly promotong one of their own? they can't say "ooh nak bagi chance kepada penulis malaysia" 'cos it isn't as if tash didn't already have international exposure!)

next year there will be at least 3 local novels so they will have a harder job. (place your bets, ladies and gentlemen!)

i hope your tumour thing turns out to be not much of a problem. will be thinking of you!

if you really do need an englishman and can't find one will an english woman do? since i'm probably going to end up reading the damn thing. and since i get nauseous at the sight of proof-reading errors ...

Xeus said...

Thanks Sharon. Oooo, are you offering to beta for me? Most cool. Let me rewrite the whole thing first. Now on Chapter 25. You wouldn't believe how many betas I got for this book now...5 adults and 2 children, but none of them English :)

bibliobibuli said...

i'll beta for you

Xeus said...

Thanks Sharon, hugs :) Targeting Feb to finish. Got to rewrite it twice before I let any beta see it! That's the right way.