A BIBLIOGRAPHY of Malaysian Literature in English by University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus Professor of Modern English Literature, Prof Dr Malachi Edwin Vethamani (pic) provides data on Malaysians writing in English, containing works written in English and those which have been translated into English from local languages.
Written by writers who are born in Malaysia, some of whom may be living abroad, the bibliography is the second edition and the updated version of the first edition published in 2001.
It also includes non-Malaysian authors who reside locally. This latest edition, a product of 10 years of research, contains details of publications in the four main literary genres - novel, short story, poetry and drama.
“It is important to document details about literary publications in English by Malaysians,” said Prof Malachi.
“I want to create both awareness and also a database for scholars to use for their research.”
He added that the data for the book was collected through numerous ways including correspondence via email and Facebook messenger conversations.
“There was also information available on the internet and I even went to bookshops to find published works,” he added.
Prof Malachi said that Malaysian literature has been more dynamic and vibrant in the last 15 years and apart from traditional publishing, works are now published on online sources.
Prof Malachi added that many writers are also publishing on their own, and more Malaysians are making their presence felt in the international literary platform by winning prestigious awards.
In his introduction to the bibliography, Prof Malachi said that English remains as the only means of literary expression for writers.
Some have expressed it as not just a preferred medium, but also as the only medium through which they can channel their creativity efficiently, he added.
“Although Malaysian readership of English literary works remain small, there has been a more positive trend in Malaysian writing since the 1980s,” said Prof Malachi in his introduction to the bibliography.
He added that besides being a resourceful piece for post-graduate literature students, the book is for anyone who wishes to know about publications in the field of Malaysian literature in English.
Commenting on how students tend to avoid taking up literature, Prof Malachi said that students have a misconception about literature and problems also arise when they are not proficient in English.
“Some teachers shy away from teaching literature due to the poor command of English and the lack of love for reading,” he said.
He said “through literature, students can learn about life and learning the English language can be more meaningful”.
Prof Malachi also said that reading Malaysian literature in English will give young learners a better understanding of multi-cultural Malaysia.