KUALA LUMPUR: The works of 12 writers from Malaysia and Taiwan have been compiled into a book to promote cultural exchange and show that “literature is a window to a society’s soul”.
The Anthology of Short Stories: Malaysia-Taiwan is a collaboration between Malaysian Institute of Translation & Books (ITBM) and the Taipei Chinese Centre PEN International.
The writers selected for the anthology represent the cream of the crop in their respective country’s literary scene, the book’s introduction revealed.
“It is a dazzling path into the realm of the human mind, despite the reader and author being unknown to each other.”
On the Malaysian side, the ethnic diversity of the six writers gave “a composite viewpoint, yet everything is connected from the Malaysian perspective”.
The writers are SM Zakir, Zurinah Hassan, Malim Ghozali PK, Jasni Matlani, Jong Chian Lai and Kathirina Susanna Tati.
ITBM managing director Mohd Khair Ngadiron said the stories would enrich the literary storehouses of Malaysia and Taiwan.
Culture division director Jack Kuei of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office here said the challenge was to select only six writers from each side to represent their country’s different social dimension.
He said the Taiwanese writers were picked to cover the different generations of writers.
“Chun-ming Huang and Wen-hsing Wang are well-known writers in Taiwan and east Asia. Four female writers – Ping Lu, Su-fen Tsai, Tai-man Lin and Yu Wen-cheng – are popular novelists in Taiwan and Mandarin-speaking societies.”
Kuei, who has been based in Malaysia for a year, said he was impressed with Malaysia’s emphasis on family values.
“Malaysian cuisine also reflects the multi-cultural facet here,” he said. “Believe it or not, now I like roti prata more than dim sum.”
He said he read SM Zakir’s Mosque three times. The story focuses on an indie filmmaker.
“It reminds me of Edward Yang, one of the leading directors of Taiwanese new wave cinema.
“SM Zakir’s story could be an inspiration to filmmakers,” Kuei said.
“On Taiwan’s side, Tai-man Lin’s Intimacy and Alienation reminds me of Arthur Miller’s Death of A Salesman,” Kuei added.
“In a material world, a job means having a luxury car as a symbol of one’s social status,” he said. “Lin’s short story echoes real-life themes and emotions.”
The anthology, which is available in Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin, was released in English recently.
Priced at RM30, the book is available at ITBM store (03-4145 1800).