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Malay Sketches

Publisher: Ethos Books
  • Description
  • Praise
  • About the Author
  • Malay Sketches is a collection of stories that borrows its name from a book of anecdotes by colonial governor Frank Swettenham, describing Malay life on the Peninsula. In Alfian Sa’at’s hands, these sketches are reimagined as flash fictions that record the lives of members of the Malay community in Singapore. With precise and incisive prose, Malay Sketches offers the reader profound insights into the realities of life as an ethnic minority.

  • Malay Sketches is a refreshingly honest and insightful depiction of the less savoury realities of life in Singapore, an ostensibly multiracial and meritocratic city-state uncomfortable with its historical Malay core. The stories serve as a stark reminder of a complex and contradictory society that is at once dynamic and dastardly, progressive and oppressive, glittery and ghoulish.”
    —Associate Professor Lily Zubaidah Rahim, University of Sydney, author of The Singapore Dilemma: The Political and Educational Marginality of the Malay Community

    “Alfian’s vignettes of Singapore Malay life are touching and funny, at once full of pathos and nostalgia. They illuminate a life that once was, and now, inevitably, with ‘progress’, what is. But ultimately they speak of dignity, quiet and undiminished.”
    —Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, columnist, activist, author of In Liberal Doses

    “The title is the key. Alfian Sa’at uses the name of a late-nineteenth-century colonialist project to frame a body of vignettes exposing the systematic politicisation of race, the socialisation of the Malays, and the individual Malay’s struggle to preserve a knowledge of community in modern Singapore. Cognitively exacting books – with such fragile themes – come once in a lifetime. Shahril Nizam’s beautiful drawings recognise the fact and rise confidently to meet this challenge. Malay Sketches is an unambiguous trailblazer.”
    Gwee Li Sui, literary critic, poet, and graphic artist

    “Subtle, delicate, elliptical, these elegiac sketches are shot through with yearning and brightness. Alongside modern parables of hantu kumkum, hantu tetek, pontianak and toyol, there are stories of separation and reunion, of love and conversion, of nation, class, childhood, gods, angels, death and prayer. There is humour and pathos but above all a longing for something forgotten, something lost.”
    —Jo Kukathas, Artistic Director of The Instant Café Theatre

    “These lingering vignettes, told in Alfian Sa’at’s characteristically poetic cadence, disclose a hidden history unlikely to find space in the panegyrics of a state sanctioned, ascriptive multiculturalism. Alfian records a truer account of an anxious settler community’s efforts to relocate an indigenous people to the margins (and then rebuke their marginalisation). It is the narrative of displaced native peoples the world over.”
    —Vincent Wijeysingha, lecturer, SIM University, and Treasurer, Singapore Democratic Party

  • Alfian Sa’at is the Resident Playwright of W!LD RICE. His plays have been translated into German, Swedish and Danish, and they have been read and performed in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, London, Berlin, Hamburg, Zurich, Munich, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

    He has been nominated for the Life! Theatre Awards for Best Original Script seven times, and has received the award twice. Alfian was the winner of the SPH-NAC Golden Point Award for Poetry and the Singapore Young Artist Award for Literature in 2001. His other publications include Collected Plays One, Collected Plays Two, Cooling-Off Day, the poetry collections One Fierce Hour and A History of Amnesia, and the short story collection Corridor.

ISBN: 9789810718015
Cover Type: Paperback
Page Count: 230
Year Published: 2012
Size: 130mm x 200mm
Language: English