Monday, 9 September 2013

News: Local Lit, Libraries, And Linguistics

"Whatever has happened to Malay literature?" Someone at Silverfish Books asked. Here's one thing:

National laureate Datuk A. Samad Said was detained from his home in Bangsar early this morning for his alleged involvement in the flying of the Sang Saka Malaya flag on the eve of Merdeka celebrations at Dataran Merdeka.

He was picked up by three police officers at 12.40am and taken to the Dang Wangi district police headquarters where he was interrogated for more than an hour.

Pak Samad, as he is popularly known, is being investigated under the Sedition Act for the incident.

The flag in question was said to have been a proposed version of the Malayan national flag. The authorities' treatment of Pak Samad has been widely criticised.

The Malaysian High Court liberated ZI Publications' Malay translation of Irshad Manji's Allah, Liberty and Love", making it okay to sell it. The next step: freeing the Borders store manager arrested for the 'crime' of selling the book. The arrest was already ruled unlawful.

Though I'm glad this issue is being resolved, I'm not sure if it's going away. So far the Federal Territories Religious Department, responsible for the store manager's arrest, seems to be dragging its feet in resolving this issue.

Some may be excited over Sophie Hannah's 'resurrection' of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, but one person sounds ... ambivalent about it.

"The reason I hate the idea of this boiled-over Agatha Christie is that the story of the "last Poirot" is so moving, and such a credit to the queen of crime as a person," writes John Sutherland in the Guardian. "The new book (and let's face it, money is the driving motive) will muddy one's sense of the dignified way she wrapped up the life of Hercule Poirot." Having said that, though, "...of course I'll download it 30 seconds after it comes out in 2014."

"...the true mark of a grammar snob is she doesn't like to be told how to use grammar herself; she just likes to tell other people that they're wrong." Why Mary Rolf stopped being a grammar snob.

This was after attending a linguistics class, where she learned, among other things, that: "there is no such thing as 'standard English' with a capital E. Instead there are many 'englishes' with a lower case E. There is the english of the Caribbean and the english of the southern United States and the english of Oxbridge and the english rappers use in their music. Traditionally we're taught that one of these is better than the rest, but in this class I learned that that's an arbitrary distinction and not necessarily the case."

How not to sell books online, specifically those 'ambitious' self-help books. Maybe they shouldn't even. But why do they even bother?

Adam Plunkett thinks "the writers are drawn to the marketers because they speak the same language of personal ambition and vague, vaguely Soviet optimism, and because the writers, as good businesspersons, want to delegate their marketing to someone who can achieve real success in the Internet book world. In turn, the marketers are happy to churn out the writers' vision of successful PR."

Does it work? He doesn't think so: "No one is fooled."

Moving on:

  • Haslina Usman, daughter of the late Tongkat Warrant, on her father's work, our culture, and those syiok sendiri (self-congratulating) writers.
  • My Malay is rubbish, so I can't really comprehend the entirety of this article in Malay by Uthaya Sankar SB. I think it talks about a local Malay author's latest novel, and how she was allegedly cheated of royalties due to her, on account of her works being used in schools to teach the Malay language via literature.
  • RIP Ann C Crispin, author and co-founder of scam-fighting blog Writer Beware, the bane of dodgy (mostly US) publishers. I often check on what's new on the blog. It'll feel weird, bringing up the URL (that still bears her name) from now on.
  • In the New York Times' new Bookends section: "Are novelists too wary of criticizing other novelists?"
  • In Japan, local e-reader industry struggles as Amazon's Kindle dominates.
  • Writer's block, we know. But "reader's block"?
  • Found: Book that went missing from library in St Paul's Cathedral.
  • "Is what is essentially a public vote rather than peer-judgment necessarily a bad thing?" Why the Hugos are good.
  • The ancient roots of several punctuation marks. The hashtag (#) was once called the octothorpe.
  • Malala Yousafzai opens the new Birmingham library: "one book, one pen, one child and one teacher can change the world".
  • The Mattituck-Laurel Library in New York has a virtual clone in the world of Minecraft.
  • They're making a movie out of Markus Zusak's The Book Thief?!


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