The next title from Matahari Books will be the first part of (one hopes) an annual series!
New Malaysian Essays 1 will feature previously unpublished, non-fiction work. There will be only six writers per book, but each one will get 10,000 to 15,000 words, the equivalent of 30-50 printed pages.
The length is ideal for any of the following: polemic, ode, lament, critique, memoir, travelogue, reportage, biography, rant, confession...They can either be one continuous essay or a bunch of chapters organised by a theme. I do not want (shudder) academic writing. I do not want words like 'modernity' and 'identity' and 'post-colonial' in the sub-heading. I am open to rudeness.
Most will be in English and one in Malay.
I want previously unpublished stuff so that we can break away from the pernicious Malaysian habit of repackaging old newspaper columns. And I want longer pieces than the norm to also encourage more sustained feats of writing, by people whom I know can write. Who knows? A Malaysian answer to In Cold Blood or Freakonomics or The Female Eunuch could come out of this.
Unlike the Silverfish New Writing series (of which I edited the first and most popular book), this will be open only to Malaysians (including residents), and only for non-fiction.
Publication date is aimed for February 2008. An ideal Valentine's Day gift if your lover is – or if you want your lover to be – an intellectual.
The writers for the first book have been chosen. More details will follow next month.