If you were to compile, say, 50 Malaysian books that you should read, what would this list consist of? The problems of canons are well-known – elitist! subjective! time-bound! – but let's try giving it a go anyway.
Books by foreigners but set in Malay(si)a are included. But each book needs to be somehow important, iconic, worthy of discussion (but you don't need to LIKE it). A good rule of thumb: If you hadn't read the book, you would have at least known enough about it to mention it. (Or: ... you would have at least pretended to have read it).
Let's keep it to the 20th century and rank in alphabetical order of author. A baker's dozen to start with:
A. Samad Said: Salina
Adibah Amin: As I Was Passing (I & II)
Burgess, Anthony: The Malayan Trilogy
Fauconnier, Henri: The Soul of Malaya
Kassim Ahmad: Hadis - Satu Penilaian Semula
Lat: Kampung Boy
Lat: Mat Som
Mahathir Mohamad: The Malay Dilemma
Rehman Rashid: A Malaysian Journey
Shahnon Ahmad: Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan
Shahnon Ahmad: SHIT
Tamar Jalis: Bercakap Dengan Jin
Usman Awang: Puisi-Puisi Pilihan