Monday, 28 April 2008

The KLAB is this weekend!

The 1st Kuala Lumpur Alternative Bookfest (KLAB) seems rarin' to go. 20 (count 'em) publishers and associations have snapped up the slots. Hundreds of titles will be available. Four books will be launched:

Much thanks must go to Zulhabri Supian for marshalling all the independent publishers that he could think of, and Dina Zaman for handling the publicity. (A special reason for visiting Zulhabri's blog is the photos he had taken during his recent visit to the village that is featured in my docu Apa Khabar Orang Kampung).

This write-up in yesterday's Sunday Star by Daphne Lee explains what will go down.

But the best way to find out is to turn up yourself :-)

KLAB will take place at the 1st Floor, The Annexe, Central Market this Saturday and Sunday from 12pm-6pm.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

RIP Rustam Sani

Just as I was looking forward to getting his two new books Social Roots of the Malay Left and Failed Nation? Concerns of a Malaysian Nationalist I received the shocking news that writer Rustam A Sani passed away a few hours ago. He was 64.

I first met him in the early 1990s when he was at ISIS and I was writing for the NST. I continued to read his articles in Utusan Malaysia, which was one of the few independent-minded spaces in that UMNO-run daily, until his column was abruptly terminated in 1998.

Some of his political courage must have come from his late father, the left-wing nationalist Ahmad Boestamam, on whom he reminisces here. (This was quite a moving piece because it turns out that the two didn't even manage to live under the same roof for any long period of time).

The fact that he did not write for the 'mainstream' media after 1998 caused him to be a bit marginalised. But, as he points out in the last paragraph of this blog post he wrote after my own 'sacking,' being marginal is no big deal if it means a preservation of your intellectual spirit.

I never knew him personally all that well – I think the last time we bumped into each other was 2 years ago, when I gleefully showed him a naked picture of himself in a book (don't ask) – but the best way to get to know a writer is to read his books. So I suggest you start, if you have not already.

Yes, his belated involvement in party politics (after academia) made him very partisan. Some would complain that he did not apply the same fierce critical scrutiny to, say, Anwar Ibrahim that he brought to bear on other leaders.

And although he had his hobby horses (his not-exactly-bewildering antipathy towards the former Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin being one of them) Rustam stood as a model for progressive and enlightened politics. For example, his exemplary take on the Hindraf rally.

His sociological training meant that he would often look at hot-button topics in not quite the expected way, and then express these views in an accessible manner – the very definition of a public intellectual.

I would have loved to read his take on the new, and newly evolving, Malaysian political scenario, but this was just not to be – and we are all the poorer for it.


Back in Penang this Sunday

Buenos Aires was wonderful, thank you very much. Cue cheesy grin.

But this Sunday will be spent at the Little Penang Street Market again, and this time I will bring Jerome Kugan who will perform from his newly-launched CD! We are taking the first flight in and the last flight out.

I enjoyed how it went down last month; nice location and nicer people. So come along!

Friday, 18 April 2008

Back at # 2

MPH Local Non-Fiction Bestsellers
For week ending 13th April 2008

1. Reaching for the Stars
Author : Sheik Mustapha Shukor Al-Masrie

2. New Malaysian Essays # 1
Author : Amir Muhammad (Editor)

3. Dr Mahathir's Selected Letters to World Leaders
Author : Dr. Mahathir Mohamad; Abdullah Ahmad (Introduction by)

4. 13 Mei : Dokumen-dokumen Deklasifikasi Tentang Rusuhan 1969 Malaysia
Author : Kua Kia Soong (diterjemah oleh Seah Li Ling)

5. In Good Faith: Articles, Essays and Interviews
Author : Zaid Ibrahim

6. Sharing the Nation : Faith, Difference and the State 50 Years After Merdeka
Author : Norani Othman, Mavis C. Puthucheary; et al

7. Vasthu Sastra Guide: Indian Feng Shui: For Health, Wealth, Happiness, Harmonious Living & World Peace
Author : T. Selva

8. Malaysia and the Club of ... Doom*
Author : Syed Akbar Ali

9. Kaya dengan Rumah
Author : Shamsuddin Abdul Kadir

10. Rahsia Bisnes Orang Cina: The Bamboo Network
Author : Ann Wan Seng

(How nice that Malay-language readers are picking up wealth tips from the Indians and the Chinese. So who needs the NEP?)

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Oh look, an award nomination!

Malaysian Politicians say the Darndest Things (Vol 1) is nomimated for an award! The nominees consist of the best-selling local books (both fiction and non-fiction) sold at Popular and Harris bookstores in 2007. It is co-organised by The Star.

Do pick up The Star on Tuesday to vote ;-)


1. Honk! If You’re Malaysian by Lydia Teh

2. I Am Muslim by Dina Zaman

3. The Reluctant Politician: Tun Dr Ismail and His Time by Ooi Kee Beng

4. In Good Faith: Articles, Essays, and Interviews by Zaid Ibrahim

5. As I Was Passing by Adibah Amin

6. The Unmaking of Malaysia: An Insider’s Reminiscences of Umno, Razak, and Mahathir by Ahmad Mustapha Hassan

7. Tanah Tujuh by Antares

8. From Small-Town Boy to World Class Surgeon by Mangai Balasegaram

9. Malaysian Politicians Say the Darndest Things by Amir Muhammad

10. The Sky is Crazy by Yvonne Lee


1. Confessions of an Old Boy: The Dato’ Hamid Adventures by Kam Raslan

2. Mamasan by Khoo Kheng-Hor

3. The Red Cheong Sam by Ralph Modder

4. This End of the Rainbow by Adibah Amin

5. 44 Cemetery Road: The Best of Tunku Halim by Tunku Halim

6. Sweetheart from Hell by Lim May-Zhee

7. The Boy Who Talks to Ghosts by Benny & Alice Wong

8. Silverfish New Writing 6 edited by Dipika Mukherjee

9. Long Road to Merdeka by Kamarul Zaman Kamarulzaman

10. Nine Lives by Teoh Choon Ean

# 8

MPH Local Non-Fiction Bestsellers
for the week ending 8 April

1. Reaching for the Stars
Author : Sheik Mustapha Shukor Al-Masrie

2. Dr Mahathir's Selected Letters to World Leaders
Author : Dr. Mahathir Mohamad; Abdullah Ahmad (Introduction by)

3. Selera Perdana
Author : Habibah Yahya, Fadillah Yakin

4. Membina Cinta Sayang (Motivasi Kasih)
Author : Dr, HM Tuah Iskandar al-Haj

5. Ahmadinejad: Singa Baru Dunia Islam
Author : Muhsin Labib, Ibrahim Muharam, et al

6. Teh Hong Piow: A Banking Thoroughbred
Author : Bowie, Paddy

7. In Good Faith: Articles, Essays and Interviews
Author : Zaid Ibrahim

8. New Malaysian Essays # 1
Author : Amir Muhammad (Editor)

9. The Untold Million-dollar Secret of Unit Trust Investment
Author : Jeffrey Gan

10. Managing Operational Risks in Organizations (Third Edition)(Management Dynamics Practical Overview Series)
Author : Eby Ruin,Josef

(The fifth consecutive week on the chart! My DJ night here in BA is tomorrow...)

Monday, 7 April 2008

Off to Buenos Aires ... for DJ duty

I do have several unfulfilled ambitions in life, but I will begin the literally long journey tomorrow towards fulfilling one of them.

I am flying to Buenos Aires to attend a film festival known as BAFICI. This is an excellent festival with one of the best programming choices I have ever seen; the fact that it has screened my previous work for 4 years in a row (from 2004 to 2007) doesn't hurt either.

I will be away for 2 weeks – but not to screen anything. I am ostensibly on the jury. But ah, that's not all.

I have also been asked to guest-DJ a festival party for one night. The email invite for this came as a bit of a surprise but then I thought: Esto es muy bueno. (This is a translation of: I found romance when I started to dance in boogie wonderland).

So the past two weeks have been spent scrambling for MP3s to play. I now have more than enough (I wanted a mix of the cheesy and the obscure – not just in life but in the playlist).

I have been on the jury in other film festivals before (once each in Indonesia, Taiwan, France and Bangladesh) but this will be my first DJ stint, so even though I'm as jittery as a virgin in a prison rodeo, it's all good!

Another Malaysian director, Liew Seng Tat, will be at the festival too. I hope he stays away from the party as he would be the only local witness if it totally flops, and I wouldn't want him to blab.

Buenos Aires! I have always wanted to visit South America; and to have the city of Borges as the intro is a double thrill. Blogging will be light (or non-existent) when I am away, so I will see yawl again on 22 April :-)

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Friday, 4 April 2008

Layout artists/designers wanted!


I am publishing a book in July, in a genre never (I think) attempted before in Malaysia, and I seek an adventurous layout person or designer to do the needful.

I do have a model of what I want it to look like, but it shouldn't just be a wholesale copy lah. Knowledge of design software is necessary, of course, as well as a sense of humour and an ability to work with deadlines. There is pay! Do email me ( matahari.books at gmail dot com).

Thanks mucho.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

# 6

MPH Local Non-Fiction Bestsellers
for the week ending 30 March

1. Reaching for the Stars
Author : Sheik Mustapha Shukor Al-Masrie

2. Dr Mahathir's Selected Letters to World Leaders
Author : Dr. Mahathir Mohamad; Abdullah Ahmad (Introduction by)

3.Quran Saintifik
Author : Danial Zainal Abidin

4. In Good Faith: Articles, Essays and Interviews
Author : Zaid Ibrahim

5. Minda Muslim Super
Author : Dr Danial Zainal Abidin

6. New Malaysian Essays # 1
Author : Amir Muhammad (Editor)

7. Sharing the Nation : Faith, Difference and the State 50 Years After Merdeka
Author : Norani Othman, Mavis C. Puthucheary; et al

8. Kaya dengan Rumah
Author : Shamsuddin Abdul Kadir

9. Rahsia Mengurus Insurans Hayat
Author : Sunthara Segar

10. Taxmen at Your Doorstep
Author : Quah Sin Hor

(This is the 4th consecutive week on the chart. The first book spent 12 weeks on it).

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

KLAB update

Just because I have not posted anything about next month's KL Alternative Bookfest in a while, don't think we have been lazy or anything. On the contrary! We (meaning mainly Zulhabri) have been working hard to fill up the tables. I am glad to report that 18 tables have been taken up by:

1. Gerakbudaya
3. Tokobuku
4. Silverfish
5. Matahari
6. Zi
7. Kinibooks
8. Monsoon
9. Suarasuara
10. Holograms
11. Sindiket Soljah
12. Sisters in Islam
13. Project OMG
14. Kakiseni (added on 3 April)
15. Bookcrossers (added 4 April)
16. Amnesty International (added 4 April)
17. MEGC (added 4 April)
18. IKD (added 4 April)

This means that registration is closed.

Four books are confirmed to be launched. One is by Kakiseni, one is called Aweks KL, one is a picture book on BERSIH, and another is about religious freedom in Malaysia. Another by Hishamuddin Rais won't be launched per se, but will be available for the first time.

The poetry slam type thing has been called off due to lack of time, but we will have a book give-away where you can, erm, give away books you don't want.

More details closer to the date!

And if you are on Facebook, you can confirm attendance here.

Poster, yet again, by Saharil!

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

KLue ad

The inside back cover in the April issue of KLue magazine looks like this:

Designed by our very own Saharil!