Writers of Malaysian heritage are gaining prominence beyond this region. They’re winning highly-regarded writing prizes, and scoring international book publishing deals. This benefits us directly as it means we get to read more (good) books set right here in Malaysia.
There’s The Garden of Evening Mist, The Gift of Rain, The Night Tiger, and The Harmony Silk Factory, to name a few. But these books share something else in common (aside from having a title that begins with ‘the’): they’re all set during colonial times. Although they’re great reads that we’d readily recommend, historical fiction isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
If you’re looking for a story that’s set in modern-day Malaysia, check these out!
We, The Survivors by Tash Aw
A murderer’s confession – devastating, unblinking, poignant, unforgettable – which reveals a story of class, education and the inescapable workings of destiny.
Ah Hock is an ordinary, uneducated man born in a Malaysian fishing village and now trying to make his way in a country that promises riches and security to everyone, but delivers them only to a chosen few. With Asian society changing around him, like many he remains trapped in a world of poorly paid jobs that just about allow him to keep his head above water, but ultimately lead him to murder a migrant worker from Bangladesh.
Ah Hock’s vivid and compelling description of the years building up to this appalling act of violence – told over several days to a local journalist whose life has taken a different course – is a portrait of an outsider like no other, an anti-nostalgic view of human life and the ravages of hope.