Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Wan Nor Azriq & D.U.B.L.I. N

Headline: Walking Out His Story  
By Bissme S 

Author  Wan Nor Azriq struck it lucky the first time with his debut novel, D.U.B.L.I.N. The book won the first prize in the novel category of the writing competition, Sayembara Penulisan ITBM- PENA-BH (2013).D.U.B.L.I.N. centres on an ageing and ailing writer, Mr H, who tries to make sense of his current life and his complex relationship with his research assistant, Anita. 
Wan will be coming out with his second novel, Boneka Rusia Guido, next month.The story is a satire on the Malaysian political scene and has a young narrator telling the story of an ambitious political leader and recluse novelist.In this exclusive interview, the 27-year-old shares his views on his writing style, his penchant for elderly characters and also how he became a writer.

*Explain your inspiration for D.U.B.L.I.N., and your style of ‘walking in literature’ where walking is said to have inspired so much great writing?

“Four years ago, I read an article in the Guardian which mentioned a tradition of walking in literature. Many authors love walking and have used their [walks to work out] their writing. Since then, I have done a lot of research on the subject.I walk a lot. I have been walking since high school. My school was quite a distance from my home. I like to daydream and whenever I  walk, it allows me to do that.”

* Is your lead character Mr H based on a real person?

“I have a habit of creating elderly characters in my short stories and novels and I do not know why.There is a part of Mr H in me. I think there is an old man inside me. There is also part of my father in Mr H and I am very close to my father (an English teacher and a self-taught painter).”

* What reactions did you receive for D.U.B.L.I.N.?

“[Some said] my novel is different and has unique structure [while  others said] my novel does not  have a concrete idea. One reviewer said my work is ‘floating between East and West  philosophies’ and it does not have anything worthwhile to say.”

* Some felt D.U.B.L.I.N. is too western and not Malay enough. Any comment?

“I really don’t understand what they meant when they make such comments. When I read a book, I do not think about the book as either eastern or western. For me, I will want to see if I can connect with the book, or the language, or with the story that’s featured and with the characters that the author has presented. For me, there is no nationality in literature."

* You mentioned many famous authors in your book but did not include any local ones.

“The authors I mentioned in my book loved to walk and they used their walking experience in their work. I’m not aware of Malaysian authors who love walking and/or who use their walking experience in their writing. That is the reason [why] I did not include any. I have problems writing something that is close to me. There must be distance between what I write and myself. If I were to include Malaysian authors in my book, it would have been too intimate
and I would not like it.”

* Some have said D.U.B.L.I.N. is a difficult book to read.

“Reading a book is like going to a theme park. If you want to play  simple games,then you can throw darts or enter the ‘haunted houses for some scares. But If you want something more  challenging, then you can take the roller-coaster rides.So if you are looking for something  simple and light, you cannot get it from my book but if you want something complex, you may  enjoy my book.
I think there are more difficult books [to read] than mine. If you think mine is difficult, then don’t read it. I am not saying this in arrogance. I really believe reading  should be something pleasurable. All books are meant to be entertaining.”

* If you have to rewrite D.U.B.L.I.N., would you change anything?

“When I am finished with writing a story, I get detached from the story. I cannot remember what  I have written. Whenever my friends point to some scenes from D.U.B.L.I.N. and  in my short stories, I will be totally in a blur. When I start a new writing project, I want to be as far  away as I can from my old project as I do not want to repeat myself.I will be so immersed in my  new writing project, that I have no emotion left for my old one.”

* Did you always want to be a writer?

“No.I was a science student. Art was alien to me. My girlfriend then loved reading the popular romantic novels. She gave me one to read [and said] the story would make me cry.It is about a wife who learns that her husband has AIDS. But the wife stands by his side till the end. I did weep after reading the novel (laughs). But I also told my girl that I could write a better story than this and that was how I began writing short stories.”

Wan Nor Azriq .... there is no nationality in literature 

His second novel hitting the book shelf 
His debut novel

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Valentine Day & Romantic Films

Valentine Day falls tomorrow. I interviewed 10 celebrities who talks about their all time favourite romantic movies. This story appeared in theSun newspaper on Tuesday Feb 11. Below is the full article ..... 

Headline: That Big Love Story   
By Bissme S 

This Valentine’s Day will be especially special as it coincides with Chap Goh Meh, the final day of the Lunar New Year celebration, which is also known as the Chinese Valentine.So, while couples the whole world over celebrate love and romance with roses, presents and chocolates as well as a candle-lit dinner for two this Friday, Chinese couples might well throw mandarin oranges into the mix.
Single Chinese girls will gather at rivers or lakes to toss mandarin oranges into the water in the hope that single guys will pick them up.
These days, to make it easier for the guys, the girls might even write down their contact numbers on the mandarin oranges in the hope of a call from a likely prospect or two.
And as the day nears, love songs rule the airwaves, for as the poet extraordinaire William Shakespeare wrote: “If music be the food of love, play on!”
The same can be said for romantic flicks. So, in conjunction with this celebration, theSun asked some celebrities to name their favourite big-screen romance.

* Sofia Jane, actress

“I love Out of Africa. I was a teenager when I watched this film.Poetic dialogues, the colonial setting and fantastic music just made me want to grow up fast so that I can have those conversations with the man I love. I also love the chemistry between (lead actors) Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.”

A scene from Out of Africa 
* Osman Ali, film director

“For me, it’s While You Were Sleeping. It is about a girl who sell tickets at the train counter who falls in love with one of her regular customers.This movie inspired me to direct my first tele-movie, Toll Gate Girl, where a driver falls in love with a girl who works at the toll. I am considering directing a sequel to it this year.”

A scene from While You Were Sleeping 

* Vanidah Imran, actress

“It’s Sleepless in Seattle. You will never know when you will meet your soul mate. When I was a teenager, I loved Pretty Woman.I love lighted-hearted romantic movies that make you smile.”
A sceme from Sleepless in Seattle

* Bront Palarae actor and director

“It’s Jean Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie. It is a different look at romance and love that makes the film special.My wife likes it too and I can watch the film again and again with her. The film is filled with whimsicality and eccentricities.”

A scene from Amelie 

* Diffan Norman, filmmaker (his short film, Kekasih, was shown at this year’s Sundance Film Festival)

“I love many movies but Ibu Mertuaku is on the top of my list. The saying ‘love is blind’ is eternal and can be seen in the movie.
“The lead character loses his sight. He gets back his sight only to experience the brutality of rejection (as the woman he loves is married). He then decides to blind himself again!”
A scene from Ibu Mertuaku 
* Zang Toi, New York-based fashion designer

“It’s Funny Face. It is a beautiful Cinderella movie (where a simple girl becomes a famous model) that is perfect to watch on Valentine’s Day.Audrey Hepburn gave a beautiful performance and the gorgeous setting of fashionable Paris will take your breath away.”

A scene from Funny Face 

* Hans Isaac, actor and producer

“For me it’s Pretty Woman. It is a timeless classic that you will never get bored watching again and again.It is a story where a rich man meets a poor girl and then falls in love with her. It’s a film that launched Julia Roberts’ career.”

A scene from Pretty Woman 

* Daphne Iking, TV host

“It’s The Notebook. I have read the novel and I thought the movie did justice to the adaptation. Everyone wants to grow old with their loved ones and I am no different.My other favourite movie is Love Actually. The movie shows that love is about sacrifices. I could relate to the movie because I have made sacrifices for love.”

A scene from The Notebook 
* Raja Azmi, film producer

“It’s has to be Ghost. The movie shows that love lives on even in death. The fact that the guy returns as a ghost to protect his lover is so romantic.My other favourite movie is Pretty Woman. Like in the movie, I will always dream that someone will come to ‘rescue’ me and give me a happy ending.”
A scene from Ghost 
* Syed Hussein Syed Mustafa, artiste

“I am not the romantic type. If I have to make a choice, it will be Serendipity. There is a Malay saying: ‘Jodoh ditentukan oleh Tuhan’ (God decides your soul mate) and this film depicts this saying perfectly. I like the way the movies has been directed.”

The poster of Serendipity

Ainunl Muaiyanah Sulaiman

We will be celebrating Valentine Day  on Friday. Since Valentine day is about romance  I decided explore the element of romance in our literature books.  I got a novelist cum poet to pick ten novels written in national language that featured  grand romance. The story appeared in theSun newspaper on Wednesday  Feb 12. Below is the full article.     
 Ainunl Muaiyanah  
Headline: Romance In Literature 
By Bissme S 

Novelist cum poet Ainunl Muaiyanah Sulaiman (bottom, right) is an editor at the institute of translation and books Malaysia (Institut Terjemahan & Buku Malaysia – ITBM). Her short stories and poems have periodically appeared in magazines, newspapers and anthologies while her first novel,Sepetang Di Kafe Biblioholic, was published in 2013. In November last year, Ainunl won the country’s premier literary award for poetry – the Hadiah Sastera Perdana Malaysia 2012–for her poem, Mimpi Dari Sebuah Lukisan Ilusi. In honour of Valentine’s Day this Friday, this wordsmith is asked to pick 10 grand romances written in the national language and why she chose them.

* Salina (A. Samad Said)

“Salina, the main protagonist in this novel, is a strong woman who never stopped believing in love despite the hardship of war and poverty. I like the relationship between Salina and Helmy. I could feel the strong love Helmy has for Salina  although she is a prostitute. But he is too afraid to express this emotion due to the age gap between them. So he buries his true feelings and treats Salina like an older sister. Samad doesn’t resort to using clich├ęs such as ‘I love you’ to express love (among his characters). You will also learn that love is never perfect but love has the power to complete the imperfection in you.”

* Dekat Disayang Jauh Dikenang (Khadijah Hashim)

“Khadijah took a different approach to tell a love story between two people from different classes. Usually in tales like this, the rich parents will oppose the relationship. But in this case, they are portrayed as kind souls.The story centres on Normala who works as a maid but takes night classes to better herself.She dislikes her employer’s son Zahar who is spoilt and arrogant. Zahar only realises that he is in love with Normala after she has gone from his life. Sometimes. one can be blind to love even though it may be in front of us.”

* Tunggu Teduh Dulu (Faisal Tehrani)

“Faisal is skilful in the way he uses language to tell his stories.This novel centres on Salsabilah Fahim who runs a papaya farm and finds herself wooed by two childhood friends.Interestingly, she doesn’t end up with these guys. Instead, she falls for a younger man who works in her farm. Their love blossoms when they perform the Umrah in Mecca, in front of the Kaabah. It is one of the best Islamic novels I have read. It is story of love between people and God …person and another … and between people and nature.”

* Nyanyian Tanjung Sepi(Noor Suraya)

“Syarifah Nuur Khalida enters in an arranged marriage with Dr Aqmar Aziz. But she is crushed when her husband takes a second wife. Boldly, the demure woman asks for a divorce and learns to toughen up. I like the fact that Noor Suraya ends each chapter with a beautiful poem.”

* Bulan Tak Bermadu di Fatehpur Sikri (A. Samad Said)

“The story centres on two married couples. The first is Mansor and Zawiah who go on honeymoon to Fatehpur Sikri, India. The second couple is Neeta and Rehman who have difficulty making ends meet. This book tells the tragic romance and touching relationships between the couples. It teaches us that a marriage is not always a smooth ride.”

* Delima Ranting Senja (Siti Zainon Ismail)

“Siti Zainon is also a painter and I believe that that has given her an added advantage. The language she uses is so romantic and beautiful. This book shows the beauty of marriage and that it doesn’t necessarily restrict your freedom. The book centres on the marriage between two activists filled with the many ups and downs in their lives.”

* Pulau Renik Ungu (Siti Zainon Ismail)

“Once again, I am impressed by the way Siti Zainon uses the beautiful analogies to describe the relationship between traveller Zaidah and the captain of a ship.After reading the book, I feel like travelling and seeing the world just like Zaidah.”

* Konserto Terakhir (Abdullah Hussain)

“Musician Hilmi cannot marry the woman he loves because her mother objects to their relationship. He learns to move on and marries another woman named Azizah. But his wife abandons him and that creates turmoil. This book will likely make you cry because of Hilmi’s tragic love life.”

* Tanah Andriyana (Noor Suraya)

“It is a love story that spans three generations between two families. It begins with Aliya readingthe diary of her grandmother, Princess Raden Andriyana, who wrote about her love story which ended tragically.I like the lead character Raden as she is a strong soul. This novel is the Malaysian version of Romeo & Juliet.”

* Bukan yang Pertama (Salina Ibrahim)

“This is about Yasmin Zulaikha, a graduate, who cannot get a job in the city, so she goes back to her village and manages a home stay business. She searches for love but in the end, finds it in the most unexpected place.”