This year’s nominees for the Popular-The Star Readers’ Choice Awards range from stories that are close to home to those that traverse the globe.
WRITER Anna Quindlen once said: “Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”
Good writing, after all, takes readers to new places, invites them to feel new sensations, and inspires them to think new thoughts. Whether they take us to captivating locales far off the edge of the world map or into the deepest, most intimate corners of the human psyche, books can move us in strange and wonderful ways.
The nominees for this year’s Popular-The Star Readers’ Choice Awards (RCA), the country’s only local literary awards, are a clear illustration of this. Covering a wide range of themes, subjects, and genres, these local titles take their readers to places both familiar and exotic.
Travel to the untamed rainforests of Sarawak with Golda Mowe’s Iban Dream, or the fantastical Eight-Fire Mountains in Arthur Julian Wu’s Natasha: Hunt For The Monkey God’s Treasure. Experience the over-the-top drama that often takes flight in an airport with Hafsah Md Ali’s If Only Airports Could Talk, or see Malaysia with new eyes through Masao Usui’s sharp Bolehland.
All nominees were selected from last year’s bestselling fiction and non-fiction titles at Popular and Harris bookstores nationwide. Who wins, however, is up to the public’s votes – your vote, in other words.
The fiction category is a diverse bag of goods. Hanley Chew takes us behind the closed doors of penthouse suites in More Hotel Tales. Featuring tales from CEOs, managers, the front desk, security, F&B and housekeeping staff of various hotels in Asia, the book is a follow-up to his Hotel Tales, which won the RCA award in 2012.
Fantasy lovers will be transported back to early 20th century Malacca with Chiew Siah Tei’s The Mouse Deer Kingdom, the tale of an indigenous boy, Engi, who is forced to live with a difficult immigrant from China, and how he takes the shape of the mousedeer to survive. Chan Ling Yap’s New Beginnings, on the other hand, takes its readers to the southern Chinese province of Guangxi, amidst the turmoil of the Taiping Rebellion and the Opium War.
If ancient China is not your fancy, perhaps Tash Aw’s Five Star Billionaire, set amidst the neon lights and towering skyscrapers of modern Shanghai, will appeal more. Longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize, Aw’s novel tells of five Malaysians who come to Shanghai seeking their fortunes, and whose lives are far more interconnected than they could imagine.
The non-fiction category also has its share of fascinating titles. Particularly relevant right now is Tim Donoghue’s Karpal Singh: Tiger Of Jelutong, which travels to Jelutong, Penang, to pay tribute to its most famous resident, the late Karpal Singh. Widely regarded as one of the best criminal and Constitutional lawyers in Malaysia, Karpal will be remembered for both his fearless advocacy of justice and his tenacious spirit.
In his book Far & Sure, former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim’s essays use love of golf to explore a whole range of issues, ranging from the introspective to the political – all while travelling to different golf courses the world over.
Those feeling nostalgic, meanwhile, can travel back to childhood with Cheeming Boey’s When I Was A Kid 2, an illustrated collection of stories that continue to captivate readers with a new collection of misadventures from his youth, which should be instantly familiar to anyone who grew up in Malaysia.
Also close to home is Roaming Beyond The Fence by Tunku ’Abidin Muhriz, a collection of his columns published in The Star, with additional articles and speeches. His writings address many Malaysian concerns, ranging from the usage of English in education, corruption and freedom of the press to public transport, Ramadan buffets and potholes.
From their inception, the RCA’s objective has been to not only reward and encourage local writing but also to inculcate a love for reading in Malaysians. Therefore, readers can have a hand in the RCA with the “Read to Win, Vote to Win” component, which rewards you for reading and voting.
Send in your votes for your top three favourite titles in the fiction and non-fiction categories (that’s six choices all together) and you will be in the running for prizes such as a book hamper worth RM100, an RM50 Popular book voucher and a free-for-one-year Popular card membership.
The voting period begins today and ends on June 1, 2014. There are several methods for voting: 1) Fill in the form available at all Popular and Harris bookstores nationwide; 2) vote online through popular.com.my, facebook.com/PopularMalaysia, bookfestmalaysia.com or facebook.com/BookfestMalaysia (be the 1,000th person to vote online and you have another chance to win a RM100 book voucher); or 3) vote through SMS – read the instructions at the top of the lists in the form on page 16 (don’t forget the slogan or you will be disqualified!).
Not sure which title to vote for? Look out for our round-up of all 20 titles over the next few weeks. You can also buy any of these titles at a 20% discount at all Popular and Harris bookstores from now until Aug 31, 2014.
Here’s the complete list of Popular-The Star Readers’ Choice Awards nominees, 2014:
1. More Hotel Tales by Hanley Chew
2. Iban Dream by Golda Mowe
3. Nazi Goreng by Marco Ferrarese
4. Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw
5. The Flight Of The Swans by D. Devika Bai
6. The Mouse Deer Kingdom by Chiew-Siah Tei
7. New Beginnings by Chan Ling Yap
8. Sarong Secrets by Lee Su Kim
9. Princess Play by Barbara Ismail
10. Natasha: Hunt For The Monkey God’s Treasure by Arthur Julian Wu
1. When I Was A Kid 2 by Cheeming Boey
2. Karpal Singh: Tiger Of Jelutong by Tim Donoghue
3. Blogging To Unblock : A Citizen’s Rights Book 2 by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
4. Bolehland by Masao Usui
5. No Bed Of Roses: The Rose Chan Story by Cecil Rajendra
6. Aren’t We All Malaysians by Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa
7. Roaming Beyond The Fence by Tunku ‘Abidin Muhriz
8. If Only Airports Could Talk by Hafsah Md Ali
9. A Backpack And A Bit Of Luck by Zhang Su Li
10. Far & Sure by Datuk Zaid Ibrahim
The Popular-The Star Readers’ Choice Awards 2014 are a precursor to BookFest@Malaysia 2014, which will be held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from July 26 to Aug 3. Admission is with purchase of the BookFest Catalogue (RM2.50 each), which will be available at all Popular and Harris bookstores closer to the event’s opening date. Entry is free for students aged 18 and below, and senior citizens aged 60 and above. For more information, visit bookfestmalaysia.com.