Every so often you discover by chance a writer or writers you’ve never heard of before, and I had this experience when I received a review copy of this book. It’s a compilation of stories and poems by a variety of mostly South Asian names, only one of which I had ever heard of.
My way of reading “foreign” literature is to let it flow over me and make its impressions on me. When I read Tolstoy and Dickens in high school, loads of words and customs and concepts in their books were foreign to me. I embraced them, and I was rewarded.
In Readings 2, I especially enjoyed Angeline Woon’s “Big Bertha and the Stones of Justice” for its depiction of common brutality unwittingly being adopted by higher class people who should know better, and as well the spare, beautiful “An Orchestrated Ending” by Damyanti Ghosh.
Not surprisingly there are a number of stories and poems dealing with themes of subtle and not-so-subtle repression of women in the Malaysian culture. “Rani Taxis Away” by M. Shanmughalingam falls into this category, as does Shahminee Selvakannu’s “Lighting the Darkness.”
In the case of collections like this, which invariably contain quite a number of stellar performances but as well some pieces that somehow don’t quite convince, I find it hard to write a review and give stars. I certainly enjoyed this book from back to front, and felt at the same time I was learning from it about the very real terrors and nightmares of real people living in real places. Therefore I would also highly recommend it.
May I now mention a different topic altogether? Annie Ogden herself, the main character of Doing Max Vinyl and Zombie Candy (and soon to appear in the third installment in the Annie Ogden mystery series) is being interviewed on Simon Jenner’s BLOG. That’s very special indeed!
A resident of Switzerland, Fred has worked as a teacher, language school manager and school owner. He has three boys and two cats and recently had to learn how to operate both washing machine and dryer. He makes frequent trips back to his native Chicago.
When not writing or doing the washing, Fred can be found walking along the banks of the Rhine River, sitting in a local cafe, or visiting all the local pubs in search of his lost umbrella.