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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Saturday, 22 December 2007

The Old House & Other Stories by Chuah Guat Eng

by Suzan Abrams in Dublin

Malaysian writer Chuah Guat Eng, who is also a veteran of the advertising industry and one of the country's more popular academics, displays her second book and a first collection of short stories called, The Old House & Other Stories.

Her first novel, a sharp-nosed intriguing thriller, Echoes of Silence was published I believe, more then a decade ago.

As a fellow-writer, I stay excited for her newest accomplishment as I would in the vein of others whose easy sophisticated command of the English Language, have always brushed away any false notions I may have had of reading local writers honing mind-probing works of fiction and otherwise, in earlier years.

In this vein, I salute Rehman Rashid, Karim Raslan, Antares/Kit Leee, Kee Thuan Chye, the occasional telling childhood play by actor, bookshop owner, columnist and writer, Thor Kar Hoong or even a monologue by playwright, Sabera Shaikh amongst many others.

However, this is Chuah's glorious moment and in a time when writers have faithfully accumulated colourful flamboyant stories to spin; one not to be missed.

Sadly, having read the announcement just yesterday, I know nothing of the contents itself - and to this, how I wish the publicity had been drawn much earlier - but if a picture could paint a 1000 words, I would say to expect haunting poignant tales complete with enriching skeletons in the closet.

The design suggests a faint mix of seduction and a thoughtful pensiveness and this in spite of the many works of multicultural fiction that prevail. In other words, the book jacket appears a refreshing cultural antidote for its haloed vision.

From my long-term observation of bookshops, considering I am often in one myself, the cover will certainly catch the interest of European & Australian book-enthusiasts, if the author persists with ambitious book-selling efforts.

I also like the way, Chuah employs innovative ideas for her publications...a book is after all very much the writer's child and should be given the best care at all counts.

In a much smaller writing scene in Malaysia - when you think of the magnitude of bigger regions - confidence is sometimes preferred from a mushrooming camaraderie as opposed to a daring solitude featuring individuality. In this aspect, one gets the impression that Chuah appears to stay in a league of her own rather than follow the whims of an agreeable crowd.

So though I may have no hint of tales to come, I can say that with Chuah, no matter the meandering turns that may form the themes of these new stories, you can hope at the very least, for a language that's world-class, a fine storytelling form and a no-nonsense style to match.

Now if you can untangle those crossed fingers for a moment, email info@hologramspublishing.com

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