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|