I have a bone to pick with this book. As a non Sarawakian, it was refreshing to read about Sarawak’s culture and history. Their fantasy tales on legends and adventures in the greens of Sarawak is something that needs to be made known.
However, Mowe’s delivery was lacking. It took me three attempts to finally finish this book. In the end, it felt more like a chore. I found myself rereading sentences or paragraphs several times because of Mowe’s writing style. Some sentences were long and convoluted, which made the storyline difficult to grasp.
There were many instances where Mowe forgoes the number one storytelling rule, which is show don’t tell.
The story introduces Nuing as a cursed child. The readers are led to believe that the curse that shadows over him is because he is a product of rape. Since his arrival in the world, his fellow villagers have shunned his existence.
Nuing then sets out on his journey to redeem his worth and protect his people against Antu Gerasi and the Iban’s spirits and gods.
As per character development, I felt Nuing, the cursed son of the great headhunter Bujang Maias, hadn’t proven himself to be truly victorious. I sometimes question his thoughts and actions during certain encounters and scenes.
Speaking of characters, half way through the book, Bujang Maias, the father who has always accepted him as his own and had been an influential part of his life, was left to be forgotten.
We were also introduced to the pig princess that insists on wanting to make Nuing her husband, but her reasoning wasn’t made clear.
While Iban Journey does a great job at introducing readers to the folklore of the Ibans of Sarawak, in the end, the premise of the story wasn’t fully translated to the readers.
I do hope there would be more folklore stories by Malaysian authors as it adds to the diversity of genres.
Nanyang: The Lure of the Southern Ocean to Lands of Opportunity and Danger by Khoo Kheng Hor
Malaysian storyteller Khoo Kheng-Hor brings you this epic novel, Nanyang. Today, many people around the world have heard of Malaysia and Singapore. However not many really knew that these two nations were once known as Nanyang, literally meaning the ‘Southern Ocean’, a name given by the early Chinese migrants who flocked there to escape war, poverty and famine and to seek their fortunes.
In this absorbing historical saga, Khoo weaves an engaging tale linking the multiracial peoples who inhabit the two countries: the orang asli, the people from various parts of Southeast Asia collectively known as the Malays, the Chinese (migrants and Straits-born Peranakan), the Indians and of course, the Eurasians.
Here is the fascinating story of their relationships, as seen through the lives of four generations as they toiled and struggled for wealth and power, fought for their beliefs and freedom, and felt their hopes and dreams for their future and those of their offspring, as Nanyang became two separate fledgling nations.
Scenes Of The Father by Amir Hafizi
We often remember our loved ones through rose-tinted glasses. The soft pink tint of the memories would sometimes reveal ludicrous details and anecdotes of humour and heartbreak, perhaps some hints at longing and love.
In this story, a man who was the pillar of his community is remembered for his stories and the stories he tells. These are facets that hope to form a semi-coherent collage of what makes a person.
Artist Chee takes on Amir Hafizi’s text and presents these facets of a man, a teacher, a farmer and a storyteller as they have never been seen before.
The River is Indigo: A Novel by Suleiman Manan
The River Is Indigo which begins in Java in the 1930s, is a story of mystical dreams, dire predictions, a family curse and destiny gone wrong. The young, prodigious Hamzah is raised by his grandmother, the enormously matriarchal Ibu Tutik who loves him dearly, in an extraordinary mansion known as the Mataram House. Hamzah’s life is intertwined with Mataram House and he is sworn by an oath never to leave it.
On his thirteenth birthday his father, Norreddin, steals him away and together they clandestinely escape in the dead of night from Mataram House, thus betraying the sworn oath. Immediately his life is bedeviled with tortuous elements. At every crossroad Mataram House shadows him, tormenting him, deciding for him the path he takes, as though the forces of fate are taking complete control of his own free will. From then on his life is no longer his own to live.