Author of short stories to speak at book fair tomorrow

Shanmughalingam says many of his stories were inspired by gossip he overheard as a young boy.

AT THE Popular-The Star Readers’ Choice Awards (RCA), Datuk M. Shanmughalingam’s debut collection of short stories, Marriage And Mutton Curry, won third prize in the fiction category.

Published by Singapore’s Epigram Books, nine of the stories were published previously, while the remaining six are new.

“There is much greater freedom to be creative when writing fiction – and I value creativity greatly,” said Shanmughalingam.

His love for stories began when his mother read to him and after listening to the tales told by the women in his Jaffna Tamil neighbourhood as they traded news and gossip.

“All the stories from when my mother talked to my aunts and our neighbours when I was a child were just swimming in my head, waiting to jump on the page. My stories begin in my mind with dialogue, which is how many of my stories start as well.”

Hardly surprising then that Marriage And Mutton Curry gives plenty of space for tales revolving around community, shared eccentricities, food and a hearty dose of humour.

An economist by profession, Shanmughalingam had served at the Finance Ministry and Petronas, and is currently the managing director of investment holding and consultancy company Trilogic Sdn Bhd.

But his love for writing, and related milestones in this creative pursuit can be traced back many decades – his first published short story, “Birthday”, won second place in the Oxford University Short Story Prize.

He writes poetry, too, and his work has appeared in numerous anthologies and on broadcasts.

As for advice to aspiring authors, Shanmughalingam advised them to write freely at every opportunity.

“Do not edit at the writing stage, you can come back to your drafts later for review and editing. Writing is rewriting.”

Listen to Shanmugalingam share from his book at BookFest@Malaysia 2019 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

He will appear tomorrow at

The Stage@Hall 5 from 2pm to 2.45pm.

BookFest@Malaysia, which is organised by Popular Book Co Sdn Bhd, is ongoing until June 9.

Star Media Group is a media partner of the event. — By ROUWEN LIN

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