'Sejarah Melayu' listed in Penguin's newly-launched South-East Asian Classics series


'The Genealogy Of Kings' is a literary work that gives a romanticised history of the origin, evolution and demise of the great Malay maritime empire, the Melaka Sultanate. Photo: Handout

Penguin Random House SEA has released two classic titles from South-East Asia, due in local bookshops this month.

The titles are The Genealogy Of Kings (Sulalatus Salatin) by Malaysian National Laureate Prof Muhammad Haji Salleh and Prisna by Princess Vibhavadi Rangsit, translated by Tulachandra, which is published in two volumes.

"We are excited and proud to inaugurate our South-East Asia Classics catalogue with these two legendary written works. These titles and many other of their kind have been able to capture and preserve the essence of another era and we are honoured to not just bring them back to the current literary landscape but also to reinforce their relevance amongst today’s readers," said Nora Nazerene Abu Bakar, associate publisher, Penguin Random House SEA in a statement.

The Genealogy Of Kings is a literary work that gives a romanticised history of the origin, evolution and demise of the great Malay maritime empire, the Melaka Sultanate. The work, which was composed sometime between 15th and 16th centuries, is considered one of the finest literary and historical works in the Malay language.

This iconic piece of work has been translated by award-winning poet/writer Prof Muhammad and will give readers a valuable insight into the Malay Annals (Sejarah Melayu), who have had great influence on the history, culture, and development of the Malay civilisation.

Prisna, written by Princess Vibhavadi Rangsit (Princess Vibhavadi Rajani), is the only English translation and the only translation authorised by the Princess’ estate. It takes place in 1938 in Phra Nakhon, Thailand, and is considered a rare progressive classic because of the Princess’ narrative that depicts women as equal to men, contrary to the common reality of that time.

Prisna is the coming-of-age story of a girl who she returns to her traditional familial roots in Thailand after spending 12 years in America. Author of the book, Princess Vibhavadi Rangsit, is a member of the Thai royal family well known for her fiction writing and her developmental work in rural Thailand.

The translator, Tulachandra, is the pen name of the late mother of a former Thai foreign minister, who translated the work as a favour to the Princess. Tulachandra was well-known for having translated many Thai classics into English.

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