Another Malaysia: Maniam's short stories

Edited book (chapter)


Wicks, Peter. 2001. "Another Malaysia: Maniam's short stories." Quayum, Mohammed A. and Wicks, Peter (ed.) Malaysian literature in English: a critical reader. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Longman/Pearson Education Malaysia. pp. 290-297
Chapter Title

Another Malaysia: Maniam's short stories

Book Chapter CategoryEdited book (chapter)
Book TitleMalaysian literature in English: a critical reader
Authors
AuthorWicks, Peter
EditorsQuayum, Mohammed A. and Wicks, Peter
Page Range290-297
Number of Pages338
Year2001
PublisherLongman/Pearson Education Malaysia
Place of PublicationKuala Lumpur, Malaysia
ISBN9837419563
Web Address (URL)http://www.pearsoned-asia.com/mal/mal.asp
Abstract

K S Maniam is a prolific writer, with two novels, plays, and numerous short stories to his credit. The manuscript of a third novel, Delayed Passage, is finished, and awaits publication abroad. An intense, reserved, but courteous person, Maniam lives with his wife and two teenage children in a modest, two-storeyed, detached house in Subang, one of the dormitory suburbs of Kuala Lumpur. It was my privilege to visit him there last December, and engage in the discussions on which, together with his fictional works, this analysis is based. Despite his critically-acclaimed literary achievements, Maniam is denied official recognition and public acclaim in his country of birth because he chooses to write in English rather than the national language known as Bahasa Malaysia. Yet there are valid reasons for his choice of literary medium, reasons that are inherent in Malaysia's modern history as former British colony and now independent state to which immigrant communities have made a vital contribution. Nor does his use of English render him less authentic a Malaysian than his literary counterparts in that country. Reading Maniam’s stories makes readers aware of what Mohamad A Quayum has called “the presence of a local variety of English, infused with local colour and the tempo of local life.” (1} Indeed, Maniam’s works are imbued with the vibrancy of the Malaysian landscape, both human and physical.

Earlier studies of K S Maniam’s literary output have focussed on his novels and plays, and on the Malaysian landscapes in his work.(2) Maniam is first and always a story teller, however, and it is his short fiction and its salient characteristics which constitute the main focus of this paper on this occasion. With his concern to portray marginal experience, whether linguistic, immigrant, female, or dispossessed, Maniam helps give voice to another Malaysia and its sense of psychic and cultural deprivation.

KeywordsManiam, Malaysian literature, Malaysia
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020470529. South-East Asian literature (excl. Indonesian)
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Byline AffiliationsSchool of Humanities and Communication
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