Malaysian graphic novel 'Batu Belah' gives a familiar folk tale a dark spin


The gatefold cover image of 'Batu Belah The Untold Story', a graphic novel written by Arkadia and drawn by Faezal Tan. Photo: Faezal Tan

Many Malaysians are probably familiar with the classic Malay folk tale Batu Belah Batu Bertangkup (The Devouring Rock). It was the subject of a novel by nationalist writer/journalist Abdul Samad Ahmad in 1936, and a black-and-white movie directed by Jamil Sulong in 1959.

Batu Belah Batu Bertangkup is the story of a mother who lives with her son and daughter. The mother loves to eat the eggs of the ikan tembakul (mudskipper), and looks forward to eating them one particular day.

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