Monday, 16 May 2016

Book Marks: Malaysia, Singapore, And Elsewhere

In the wake of the 2016 KL International Book Festival, sales of books are reportedly down by thirty per cent. Among factors blamed for this include "budget slashes in the education sector, fall of the ringgit and consumers who are tightening their belts."

Much has also been said about the accessibility of the venue, which I can attest to after attending a Big Bad Wolf books sale there once. And I heard that officers from the Home Ministry had been prowling the book fest venue and issuing orders forbidding publishers from selling certain titles.

Also: newly minted national literary laureate Datuk Zurinah Hassan is worried about Gen-Y's apparent love of racy pulp fiction. Datuk Zurinah told national news agency Bernama that "the popularity of low-quality fiction would have negative implications on the publication of more academic-oriented reading materials (hmm), as well as put the dampers on efforts to create a smart and knowledgeable generation."

And Mutalib Uthman, co-founder and CEO of of indie publisher DuBook Press, is stepping down. I wonder what he thinks of Datuk Zurinah's assertions.

Several Malaysian writers: Gina Yap, Ted Mahsun and Fadzlishah Johanabas regale online magazine Rojak Daily with their experiences in publishing.

Singapore-based publisher Epigram Books scores four wins at the Singapore Book Awards:

...half of the eight awards given out, including awards such as Best Fiction Title, which went to Amanda Lee Koe's short story collection Ministry Of Moral Panic, and Book Of The Year, for the special cover edition of Sonny Liew's graphic novel The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye.

The Rock And The Bird by author Chew Chia Shao Wei was named Best Young Adults' Title, while Lingzi Media's The Search, by Chinese writer and illustrator Lee Kow Fong, won Best Children's Title.

Meanwhile, the works of Singaporean Tamil writers are featured at a book fair in Chennai. The piece could be a bit more detailed, though.

Oh, and a bunch of Singlish items have just been added to the Oxford English Dictionary. But shouldn't some of those be Manglish as well?

Over at The Daily Beast, Malcolm Jones thinks "it's high time we let Rudyard Kipling out of the penalty box:

"The truth is, Kipling wrote a lot of ill-conceived garbage and he wrote a lot of truly wonderful fiction as well, and it’s usually not at all hard to tell the difference. Even when it is, the effort is justified. Pondering how a writer so good could occasionally go so wrong forces us to contemplate how all of us, even the most enlightened, can be swayed and deluded by the assumptions and beliefs that hold sway in the times in which we live."

"I just don't find American literature interesting" and other stuff from Jessa Crispin, who has shut down her pioneering book blog Bookslut early in May.

"Running it takes a lot of time," Crispin told The Vulture, with regard to the blog, "and it makes no money so I’ve been pouring money into it for 14 years. We always were trying to figure out ways to keep it going. I had a meeting with my managing editor and we went through all these ideas and nothing seemed viable and we said, 'Oh, we should just close it, shouldn’t we?' "

RIP, Bookslut. But I hope Crispin will still be talking about books and stuff.

"Academic writing services" - a profile of a freelance dissertation writer or, as some would put it, ghostwriter for lazy students. This guy, however, is apparently conducting a vendetta with his job.

[Marek] Jezek (pseudonym) is originally from DR Congo, and describes a network of black academics from African backgrounds that are unable to find work in universities.

"In a sense it's an emotional retribution for a wrong that's been done to me," he says, "For me it is a way of satisfying myself and satisfying my ego, because I'm feeling rejected unfairly. I get a bit of emotional satisfaction when a student gives me a call and tells me he got 70% or 80% for the work I did."



  • The looming threat to the Australian book industry, according to Susan Hawthorne, "co-founder and Director of Spinifex Press" and "English Language Co-ordinator of the International Alliance of Independent Publishing based in Paris" (profile from The Guardian). Looks like the Australian book industry, like its wilderness, is also a unique ecosystem.
  • YA novel Bright Star by Erin Swan was selected by a computer algorithm for publication by Inkitt and Tor. However, the blog Writer Beware remains "skeptical of Inkitt's 'data driven' approach." Should editors and literary agents be afraid? Well, they said e-books would soon kill print too, didn't they?
  • Discussion panels on LGBT issues and Indonesia’s 1965 tragedy went on during the ASEAN Literary Festival (ALF) in Jakarta, despite protests from religious groups. Kudos to the organisers of ALF for standing firm. On a remotely related note, some Indonesian writers and literacy activists recently protested against the banning of books by the Indonesian military "in an apparent attempt to prevent a feared revival of communism."
  • Reader and book critic John Self (assuming that is his name) on reading. No excerpts from me. It's really long, but worth a read.
  • Useful for anyone writing recipe books: ten pet peeves of a cookbook copy editor by copyeditor Suzanne Fass, who wrote a post for the blog of writing coach, author and freelance editor Dianne Jacob.


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