Sunday, 11 May 2014

Popular-The Star Reader's Choice Awards 2014

The Popular-The Star Reader's Choice Awards is upon us again. I'm more excited about this year's picks because I'm more familiar with some of the titles in the running. And it's a pretty tough line-up.

I reviewed two of the titles nominated under Fiction: Golda Mowe's Iban Dream and Tash Aw's Five Star Billionaire. The former is a magical and lyrical tale (though the characters sound like they're performing on stage) about an orphaned Iban boy who would, under the guidance of powerful spirits, become an accomplished headhunter, warrior and longhouse chief.

Boey Cheeming's When I Was A Kid 2 (left) and Golda Mowe's Iban Dream

In comparison, Aw's story of five Malaysian Chinese who went to 21st-century Shanghai to make their fortunes had a more hectic pace and a grittier feel, but okay overall.

Tash Aw at Silverfish Bookscover of ‘Five Star Billionaire’
Five Star Billionaire is by Tash Aw (left), who met fans, read some
passages from the book and fielded questions during a meet-up at
Silverfish Books in Bangsar on 23 February 2013

Though I haven't read Barbara Ismail's Princess Play yet, I did read Shadow Play, and while the portrayals of the characters and backdrops were somewhat realistic, the pace was a too languid for me. I'm expecting similar stuff from Princess Play.

I did some work for two books nominated under non-fiction: A Backpack And A Bit Of Luck (the newer edition) by Zhang Su Li, and Hafsah Md Ali's If Only Airports Could Talk.

A Backpack and a Bit of Luck by Zhang Su Li (left) and If Only Airports
Could Talk
by Hafsah Md Ali

I considered the latter a dark horse; penned by a former MAS ground crew member, it was something that I envisioned an older Yvonne Lee (The Sky is Crazy, Madness Aboard!) would write. Zhang, meanwhile, needs no introduction. We were asked to re-package the book, which was first published by Marshall-Cavendish. I quite liked the stories inside, despite the faint shades of purple.

And, of course, there's Boey's second book, When I Was A Kid 2, which I reviewed (months after his first) and won't say anymore about. Both, after all, are ... popular, from what I'd heard.

If you're interested, vote now. For your favourites, not mine. I'm hoping for different outcomes this time (no politicians or sports personalities, please), but I'm not holding my breath.

(I also helped proof one of the nominated books not mentioned here - and I'm not telling.)

03/08/2014   Results are in, though a wee bit disappointed that my favourite books didn't grab the top spots. But top three's quite decent.

Karpal Singh: Tiger Of Jelutong   Tim Donoghue
When I Was A Kid 2   Cheeming Boey
A Backpack And A Bit Of Luck   Zhang Su Li

New Beginnings   Chan Ling Yap
More Hotel Tales   Hanley Chew
The Mouse Deer Kingdom   Chiew-siah Tei

Congratulations to all those who were nominated; you're all winners as far as I'm concerned.


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