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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Tuesday 17 March 2009

New Age

I bought the album from Dubai and this tune is a favourite.
The design clip for the above video was created for YouTube by 26-year old ebruNL from the Netherlands.

Monday 16 March 2009

Egyptian author Youssef Ziedan wins the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (Booker) for Beelzebub "Azazeel"

by SuzanAbrams

Captions: The only picture I could find on the web of Dr. Youssef Zeidan, who is the gentleman with glasses and clapping his hands, with friends on the far right. The picture was one of many to celebrate the Abdul- Rahman Badawi celebrations and copyright is held courtesy of the Manuscript Center.
The other picture from the Egyptian Coptic Church is taken from Copts.com.

London: Of the Arab world, Egypt may just stand closest to a literary renaissance just now. Beirut, Lebanon would probably follow suit with its electrifying set of diaspora writers sprouting up in the West and Tehran, Iran stays presently engaged with a monumental amount of literary translations, as a long list of work-in-progress projects that stretch back to the time of Confucious.

Last evening on the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, the Egyptian Professor, scholar and author, Youssef Ziedan won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, courtesy of the Man Booker, with "Azazeel" (Beelzebub), his best-selling novel which is said to have greatly angered the Egyptian Coptic Church.

Church elders turned hot under their collars defending a history held private to their present congregation and ancient records. Ziedan's story is said to have rebellously challenged their authority as the heirs of St. Mark the Apostle and the Church's exclusive claim to Egyptian history between the end of paganism and the arrival of Islam in 640AD. They decided that the author intended to destroy "authentic Christian doctrine".

Ziedan's plot takes place in Upper Egypt, Alexandria and is set in the 5th century. For his win, the author who has specialised in Islamic philosophy and Sufism, collects US$50,000 and an extra US$1,000, a token awarded to all in the shortlist.

An English translation of his work is also guaranteed. The Emirates Foundation funds the prize.

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After an age, the poet Desmond Swords, writes something beautiful on his blog today.

Scroll down past the poetry and the recently-uncovered Aneeta Sundararaj-plagiarist stories in Malaysia, may be read on the earlier part of March 15 and also March 13. - suzan abrams

Inspector Singh Investigates: by Shamini Flint (Paperback Piatkus, UK)

by Suzan Abrams

Singapore/Malaysia Fiction: May 2009 sees the London launch of Malaysian born and now Singapore resident, Shamini-Mahadevan Flint's first thriller narrated in the true vein of the long-suffering classic British sleuth, mainly a one Inspector Singh. The paperback, called "A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder" (£8.00), will be published in the UK by Paperback Piatkus, an imprint of Little Brown UK, with whom Flint bagged a 3-book deal comprising her exclusive Inspector Singh Detective Series, last year. After a long wait, the cover image was recently released.

Flint who is married to a Westerner, worked as a corporate lawyer before resigning to become a stay-at-home mum and writer.

Her story stays inspiring to every writer who commands a mastery of the English Language and decides to go it alone with self-publishing.

Shamini who also writes and publishes several children's books in Singapore, self-published her own Inspector Singh series in the Lion City until publishers Little Brown swooped the lot.

First Paperback & Plot

The plot that makes up the first paperback, talks about a beautiful Singaporean model, Chelsea Liew who is on death row for the murder of her ex-husband., Alan Lee, a Malaysian heir to a timber fortune.

When Inspector Singh is sent from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur to investigate the crime, he knocks badly against a wall of religious and cultural conflicts within Liew's family that will test his judgement to the limits, even if his instincts tell him that the model is innocent. Plus, with the Malaysian police glad to see the back of Singh, how will he find out who the real murder is?

Suggested Avenues for the Perfect Read

The plot holds the kind of light-heartedness that would be perfect for bedtime, a rainy afternoon, a fireside moment on a winter's evening or as a companion for the beach, come summer.

Personal Note:

I first had the pleasure to meet Flint in Singapore at the Singapore Writer's Festival in December 2008. She is a wonderful person: friendly, warm and constantly witty. Her high popularity asserts itself to pure zest. Flint is just as prolific in her publications, as you will later be able to observe from her website which I shall post below this article. Her energy is breathtaking.
The festival also saw the launch of this Inspector Singh Paperback under a different title.


The second plot description is titled Inspector Singh Investigates... A Bali Conspiracy Most Foul. It is to be published in October 2009.

Second Paperback & Plot:

Inspector Singh is back, but this time on secondment to Bali. A bomb had been let off in the most touristy part of the island and Singh has been sent to help with security and anti-terrorist measures. But very soon the Bali police realise Singh has little to offer them in terms of experience in this field. He?s much better suited to doing what he?s good at - solving murder. Simple! So when a body is discovered in the wreckage, killed by a bullet before the bomb went off, Singh should be the one to find the answers. But simple murders are never as simple as they seem ? and this one has far-reaching political consequences?

Further Reading: Shamini Flint's Website.

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by Suzan Abrams

Icicles like flutes,
orchestrating concerts,
a stillborn night. Yet
applause punctures
the sullen silence,
a rushing gale screams
ovation. Or perhaps
albino bats, blind on a
branch, where witches
prey, those unvarnished
nails, ageing dames
yearn their manicures,
or dripping chocolate,
milk bar sticks and
trees for cocoa cups
where starlings
twitter up a storm.

Sunday 15 March 2009


by Suzan Abrams

I, the spool of thread
smarter than
fat baked bread,
fluffy cocoa, or
hardy slippers
that snuggle toes,
may shy from a show
but smuggle merit
by looming high
a spinning carousel
weaving sweaters
dressing quilts
and warming ice upon a
sunrise, marrying
sentiment in dreary
beds, a dancer
the top of my head.


by Suzan Abrams

Life stands transfixed on the ordinance of time
and space. I am the reflex.
Heralding a witch’s limp, I secretly dance
the fairy leap, spiraling up my galaxy swirl,
mismatched hobbles drowned my lost worlds.
I ready a parachute dip from where my
toes just miss the shores of death.
But calendar dates and stubborn bones petition
that I not abandon breath.
Still, I was busy counting stars that matched

the lines upon my skin, you would think
that such a feat would breed an easy win.

Once I was young, a careless whore to

fleeing days. Make me my merry way and
I’d swing my skirts no matter
what the cost, throw songs to the rooftop
wind and ride the wing of a magpie king.
My jigsawed route from where I flew then,
precious, strong and brave.
Now, I’ve been told that I would cease to exist
if not for cushioned sighs.
Alas, I who throw parties for an embittered wart
and curse a grunt for a snore would hold on,
my beddy-byes a prayer for dear life, begging
to smile at a sunrise...won’t another one be kind,
while fading to my drooping eye.


by Suzan Abrams

She stayed innocuous in her belief of fantasy
But deluded no-one.
Why, just this morning, the snow
fell with a vengeance as she hung out laundry.
It defied a March sun and chalked her shoulder,
With shouts of boo while the fallen sky crept
behind, a skirt tug for a scared child.
Humming its winged melody, a stolen composition
The whistling wand of an abandoned swan
and the noisy sea of ghostly windmills, she
was suddenly taken to fancies, picturing the
can-can swing of gossamer threads,
destined to shroud the drone of pegs.


by Suzan Abrams

She was a pugnacious sort, a lizard tongue
preying on overtime. She tasted betrayals
for trifles and gossip fed candy into her body
parts, her soul measured eternity all wrong.
Lungs raced on slippery grace, inhaling
the fumes of slander with clumsy distaste
and tunnelling down, a freezer
for a tummy that shunned its slimy defrost
to bottle up the heady juice of news.
And what with withered breasts for a
rocketed aerobic stretch, pendulums
that even professed circus swings
downside up and forgot their dignified ride
to the grave...

Or she may have resembled a cake, obese
for a sunken oven squeeze. But you, the
husband desiring the obtuse for a potent
perversion rested bravely, a carnation
cradled on a lapel, and plumped up by
rosettes, despondent in the gullied nest of
her feathery skin.

Why, the other day she served me tea.
Cherries from freckles and chocolate spat
from the bowels of a throat. And she wore
the fray from her commendable tray on a
smile that may have turned a wedding
hat into an elusive bat.

She kept her glee with the wee bit
of an Earl Grey Special if I wasn’t to mind...
she whispered its mud brew where she had
squatted with aerobic precision to kiss a frog.
As for the milk and sugar, ferried about like
wallet stowaways, watch her squeeze the
leather dry from dripping fat. More cream,
she’d ask except that a touch of acne pus
would do it nicely and one ought to utter
one’s thanks wisely.

But she was a pugnacious sort, licking your
days with gossip in her body parts and her
criminal toes a quarreling band of dwarves
to shovel up wrongdoings for a fee. Still,
the dutiful wife, she kettles your whims into
a nice hot broth as you wheedle your way
from a sting. And so her fingers scrub and
clean and sing.

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suzan abrams


There is an ocean that sits
in the scared sun and it carries
a blue moon in its shell
to mark the flavour of a changed
sunset, so mind the step.
We swim in the fluorescent hue
with salt as a raft.


My plans for the moment now that I am back and safely recovered from the jet-lag, are to finish my collected ghost stories (proofs and all) and to rush this for publication and to attempt other writing endeavours. Roundabout July or August, I shall return to Africa to collect my luggage and also to take part in a much longer safari at the Serengeti. I shall also visit one other country after Africa and that would probably be Cairo or Australia. I can't settle unless I travel.

P.S. Dublin is beautiful at the moment. It is a new spring and the mornings are slightly warmer. Everywhere, the birds sing.

Another Case of 'Aneeta' Plagiarism Uncovered- Malaysian

Remember that a few days ago, I revealed a case of plagiarism in Malaysian fiction? It was called Aneeta Sundararaj plagiarises Pearl S. Buck stories in Malaysian fiction. Otherwise, just scroll down the screen a little, to read it.

This morning, I uncovered by chance another case of 'aneeta' plagiarism that seems too close to home.

An 'Aneeta' from Malaysia joined an online freelance-writing portal, in December last year. It was just while spending a few days in Kuala Lumpur, that I had discovered the plagiarised Pearl S. Buck stories myself. In this case, the woman submitted a few posts for the portal until its editor discovered that one of the articles - and this for which writers may get paid - was stolen. The editor rejected her article on the basis of plagiarism and suspended her account. In other words, it looks like she was sacked since her name was removed from the author list and all her previous articles were removed as well.

What I read was a short conversation with the 'aneeta' in question pleading for mercy. The editor stayed unrelenting and was determined that she be removed from the portal.

I'm going to copy and paste that little bit of dialogue which rightfully belongs to Constant Content. Hopefully, they won't mind but if the editor writes to me, I will remove it. I believe the editor will only be too shocked to see that work has been plagiarised more than once.

Before I paste the conversation, this is why I easily suspect the two 'aneeta's' to be one and the same. If not, then it has to be 2 different 'aneeta-s' working on 2 similar writing thefts from the same twilight zone in Malaysia. This can't be.

a) I am Malaysian and know the small writing scene in that part of the world very well.

b) the individual is Malaysian.

c) later, when you read the conversation, you'll see that the individual mentions a Malaysian newspaper.

d) the individual did the same thing as what she had earlier attempted with the Pearl S. Buck stories. She removed original words and threw in localised terms - in this case for eg. baju kurung which is traditional Malay wear for girls and women, in Malaysia. She tries to Malaysia-nise something that was originally not Malaysian, exactly as what happened with the Pearl S. Buck stories.

e) the Malaysian writing circle is a very tight band of a tiny group of people. Kuala Lumpur is a small city as compared with Europe or the States and the writing circle is more community-driven. Everyone knows each other. Bearing this in mind, there is only one Aneeta (with this kind of spelling) in the picture.

f) The Aneeta in question often goes to book launches and readings in the Kuala Lumpur area. Writings events are considered a drop in the ocean as compared to the massive hive of activity that goes on in Australia, the States or Europe. So these book and writing enthusiasts grab any chance they can get.

g) As you will read later in the conversation, there was a book launch in Kuala Lumpur recently with a dress code that signalled Smart Casual. (Yes, strange things like this do happen.)

h) As you will read later in the conversation, the aneeta dismissed by the editor uses legal words like 'arbitary'. The Aneeta I wrote about was a former lawyer who resigned suddenly and often throws in legal scare-words in the face of difficult conversations.

i) The Aneeta I wrote about has played the role of injured martyr towards me personally, in the face of critiques. Later you will read similar lines like "I am very sad"... & "it hurts..."

) The individual who plagiarised Buck's work also signs her name as aneeta when commenting on blog posts.

Here, a painful conversation, I discovered on the Web this morning:

rejected and suspended
Area for content rejection questions.

Moderators: Ed, Celeste Stewart, Constant
Topic locked
7 posts • Page 1 of 1
rejected and suspended

Postby aneeta on Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:22 pm

I am very sad. I worked on an article about what to wear to parties. It was titled 'Dressing Up'. During the holidays, I received an invitation to a party and did not know what to wear. Just last week, I received an invitation to a launch of a book and it said 'smart casual'. I thought it would be fun to research this aspect and asked around about formal wear and so on. I looked up a piece in a local (malaysian) newspaper and wrote my article. I even tried to make it more 'personal' by using some local terms like saree, cheongsam and baju kurung. When I submitted it, I received a rejection notice. What's worse is that I've been accused of plagiarism and my account has been suspended. What article am I supposed to have taken this information directly from? I don't think it's fair to just make such drastic accusations without giving me the name of the article. What do I do now? I do want to continue writing but this is very depressing. I've written for C. C. for some weeks now and have been using the same techniques of research. I've been careful to give due credit where necessary. So, I just cannot understand this. Please help.

Kind regards,


Posts: 18
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2008 11:23 pm

Re: rejected and suspended

Postby Ed on Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:31 pm
As is stated in our guidelines, taking information directly from other sources/rewriting articles that have been published by others is considered plagiarism. This article was not significantly different from the original article. Constant Content has a zero-tolerance policy for plagiarism. We cannot accept articles that are not completely original or content from authors who do not submit completely original content.



Posts: 3893
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2006 2:15 pm

Re: rejected and suspended

Postby aneeta on Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:57 pm
Hi Ed,

I understand the guidelines. Believe me, I've been trying very hard to follow them since I joined - I've read them, re-read them and really tried. Your answer is exactly what was sent to me in the email but does not answer my question. I've explained to you the process of how I came about to write the article but my question remains: what do I do now? I can't log into my account. I can't do anything except to write in this very public forum. Does this arbitrary and unilateral decision on C.C.'s part mean that I can't do a single thing?


Posts: 18
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2008 11:23 pm

Re: rejected and suspended

Postby Ed on Mon Jan 26, 2009 5:02 pm
The decision is not arbitrary, but it is final. We will consider no more of your submissions.



Posts: 3893
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2006 2:15 pm

Re: rejected and suspended

Postby aneeta on Mon Jan 26, 2009 5:14 pm
Since you will not consider any more of my submissions, then so be it. I've explained to you how I came about writing this piece. i've been honest and my conscience is clear. But, what will you do with the money collected for articles that have been sold? Will you keep this? It may not be much compared to what your regular writers earn but still ...


Posts: 18
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2008 11:23 pm

Re: rejected and suspended

Postby Ed on Mon Jan 26, 2009 5:16 pm
Outstanding payments are made at the beginning of the month, as always.



Posts: 3893
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2006 2:15 pm

Re: rejected and suspended

Postby aneeta on Mon Jan 26, 2009 5:29 pm
Thank you. i've never received payment from you and did not know this.

You know, I have seen articles with all capital letters (which your guidelines insists are not allowed) accepted. I have read material on this site which I've read elsewhere - vertabim. I've never pointed them out and have tried to follow strictly to your guidelines. Even when I was rejected for another article, I apologised when I realised the mistake was mine. Still, nothing seems good enough.

Forgive me, but I will always consider your decision to bar me from this site as arbitrary. I gave you an honest explanation as to how I came to write this article. I still want to know the article I'm supposed to have plagiarised. I can guess that the answer will be something along the lines of 'rejected articles are purged from our system' but you know, when you accuse someone of something as serious as plagiarising, you should be able to answer this. It hurts.


Posts: 18
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2008 11:23 pm


It's fairly interesting in a bizarre way. First she starts on a friendly note and when faced with a stern remark, goes on to argue that if others are doing it, why not her.
I love this editor. No-nonsense, totally fair-minded and wonderfully ethical.

Stealing is stealing. How can such a crime be justified with phrases like "techniques of research."
And how can anyone in this high-tech age of a competitive publishing climate, write to a professional editor and say they're crying buckets over a rejection. Sheesh!

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Thursday 12 March 2009

Aneeta Sundararaj Plagarises Pearl S. Buck Stories in Malaysian Fiction

by Suzan Abrams
in Dublin

Malaysia: Plagiarism

I bought this book of Malaysian short stories a few months ago in Kuala Lumpur. I could only find them in one bookshop.

Snapshots is made up of a collection of short stories by 3 Malaysians, Aneeta Sundararaj, Saradha Narayanan and A. Jessie Michael. It is edited by Craig Cormick and said to be published by Oak Publication Sdn. Bhd. although this appears to be more of a distributor, judging from their web content.

At least 2 of the longer short stories as I have discovered for the moment; Enchanteur and Brought Back to Life by Aneeta Sundararaj, are plagiarised from the late Nobel Prize Winner, Pearl S. Buck's collected short stories. A complete bibliography of Buck's collected short fiction is available from Wilkipedia where the titles can be obtained and also ordered from Abe Books. Otherwise, just contact the plagiarist for the original version.

The ideas, central themes, stuctures, narrations, characterisation and plots have been lifted off the original, almost in their wholeness. I had read all of Pearl S. Buck's short stories as a teenager, her books easily available in the school library and recognised the stolen stories at once. They were my favourites. The titles of these short stories, are of course concocted by the plagiarist.

I also recognise another copied story and have my suspicions on the rest since once you know a person has stolen 2 stories, it is hard to imagine any creativity or originality for the others.

The stolen stories are actually older American versions and without featuring the Chinese. Buck was famous for penning stories stretching both cultures. These tales have long stayed out-of-print and would be very difficult to trace. I am surprised that I had read them all as a teen enough to remember them with clarity. They are gathered together with other modern American stories.

Briefly, the first stolen story , Enchanteur deals with Pearl S. Buck's own version of a beautiful woman who climbs aboard a train and attracts the attention of a weary American executive after office hours. She is so beautiful that she steals his breath away. I remember Pearl S. Buck using the line "she was in a class of her own." That was the first time I ever came across such an apt description of beauty - an outstanding league to a physical consciousness - if you like and never forgot it. Then later after the train ride, the man's plain wife comes to meet him at the station and notices the beautiful woman. At once, there is a heavy reflection of the marriage from the man's point of view. He compares beauty to plainness and describes his wife as nothing more than pleasant. She takes him home, there are guests to entertain and all the while, the husband makes notes on how a good wife is so much the greater blessing then another who drips with fanciful beauty. The entire plot takes place within the space of an evening. The story is highly profound and Sundararaj plagriarises this deep introspective tone for herself while also stretching the copied plot along the same time frame.

On becoming a fashion journalist with Female magazine in Kuala Lumpur/Singapore for several years, I remember using this specific fictitious episode as a guideline with which to measure my own expectations of beauty with regards to fashion.

Sundararaj couldn't have picked a worse story to plagiarise. Hers is the carbon copy from start to finish of the original idea, form, structure, narration, movement of the plot, characterisation etc.

The only difference is that in the stolen version, she changes an American version to a Bollywood one. I say Bollywood because the couple is Indian and the setting is Malaysian... a Malaysian car, a Malaysian suburb etc. Instead of friends dropping by in the evening, in this case, it's relatives. Instead of martinis, it's curries, if you get my drift. Just a bit of tweaking here and there.

In the second story, Brought Back to Life, Pearl S. Buck reveals the story of a family's visit round a dying patient in the hospital. The close-knit family recalls life's most profound moments and an eavesdropping patient receives new inspiration and hope. Sundararaj plagiarise this story for herself as well, claiming Buck's tale as her own. I remember the long conversations very well. Again, expect a bit of tweaking. Buck drew up a truly heartwarming tale. If I am not mistaken mango trees were originally apple trees in Buck's version.

Open the cover of Snapshots and Aneeta Sundararaj has not given any credit at all to Pearl S. Buck. Instead there are rather threatening disclaimers warning the reader against copying any of the stories and claming them all to be imaginary.

In the middle of all these, it says: Copyright belongs to the respective authors. This is my confirmation that Sundararaj lies, as the original copyright of these 2 whole plots and characters that I have outlined above, belongs to Pearl S. Buck's trustees. The seriously tampered versions belong to Sundararaj.

She also promoted these stories heavily on the web and received lavish praise from her blogger friends who applauded her 'literary talent' over the stolen stories.

What makes it worse is that I remember these writers giving a lengthy newspaper interview or two in Malaysia, where each one, including and especially the plagiarist, talked about how difficult it was to 'compose' the stories.

I have the book of stolen stories with me at the moment.

In the past, Sundararaj did once self-publish a novel called The Banana Leaf Men but splattered with grammatical errors. I still have my copy. They were the kind of sloppy errors designed to provoke literary agents and publishers to high annoyance. Hence, goes the reputation of every other smarter ambitious self-published author. However, it was a washout and long removed from the bookstore shelves. Later, she opened a website called HowtoTellAGreatStory.com offering international editing services with what I considered to be steep American dollar rates. In Kuala Lumpur, the cost of living is low.

More curiously, in her website, she also rolled out lengthy articles on how not to plagiarise stories. Very much resembling the situation of how for instance, a man who murders his wife would help a search party look for her corpse in disguised agony.

I suspect a third copied story as well but will check up on this when I have the time and inclination to do so.

At the moment, all the other names of writers, the editor, printer and publisher in and of Snapshots, stand alongside stolen literary property.

Added 16th March 2009 - Another Case of 'aneeta' plagiarism uncovered.

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by Suzan Abrams

I drank my biscuit from a straw. My straw choked from the biscuit which choked inside of me and I choked both from the biscuit and the straw. Then the biscuit, straw and I plunged into a very black hole.
We need candles.

Wednesday 11 March 2009

Literary news from Cairo

The young, charismatic Khaled al Khamis, Egyptian journalist and writer for the bestselling collection of short stories from the streets of Cairo, called Taxi, told us in a panel discussion at the Emirates International Festival for Literature in Dubai that ...

...the hot topic in literary circles in Egypt among poets and novelists was that one should refrain from accepting national literary awards for prizes as so much of this currently included the "sell-out of a writer's soul" i.e. with which to serve a politician or prominent businessman's individual needs. That of late, prizes were fashioned not exactly to reward excellence of work but as an agenda or mission to secure a benefactor's accolades or to heighten his prestige for agendas known only to higher tight-lipped circles. There is talk among Egyptian writers of staying together in solidarity and turning any future prizes down.

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Applaud the conscience-stricken melody of the beautiful. For I am the enraptured fish, dancing up the water! I move with the humoured audacity of time, cherishing the hours that unfold like a creased blanket of stars. - suzan abrams -

Tuesday 10 March 2009


by Suzan Abrams

Ouch...my foot, your shoes like wood! Baby, you dance so good! Ouch...my
foot, your
shoes like wood! Baby, you dance so good! Ouch..my foot, your shoes like
wood! Baby, you dance so good! Ouch... my foot, your shoes like wood!
Baby, you dance so good! Ouch...my foot, your shoes like wood! Baby
you dance so good! Ouch...my foot, your shoes like
Baby, you dance so good!
Ouch...my foot, your shoes

like wood! Baby, you dance so good! Ouch...my foot, your shoes
like wood! Baby, you dance so good! Ouch,,,my foot, your shoes like
wood! Baby, you dance so good! Ouch...my foot, your shoes like wood! Baby,

you dance so good! Ouch...my foot, your shoes like wood!
Baby, you dance so good! Ouch...my foot, your shoes like wood! Baby, you dance so good! Ouch...my foot, your shoes like woo...

Picture Credit: Fernando Botero

Short Run

by Suzan Abrams

This is a case of a prophet being recognised in her own country but not in retail outlets abroad. Idealism would demand the recognition of a genius for Preeta Samasaran's Evening is the Whole Day. But realism shrouded in its brutal truth, tells a different story in London. The title has simply vanished from the display sections in the city's many main bookstores on the Oxford Circus and Charing Cross Roads and can't be seen anywhere at all, although of course, it must be slotted somewhere in the far back...
Not even Hatchards in Piccadilly's famous for its generous rows of hardbacks and even more its devotion to multicultural titles, is showing a Samarasan. The title feels like it never was and when I watch the consumers ferrying their little baskets of books for purchases, there's no sign of the fat, chunky novel. The sad truth is that no buys because no one sees.
The shortest run I know for any Malaysian novel.
For Malaysian bloggers in the Far East who assume that a handful of Malaysian literature in English has made it big in the West, then they ought to fly to this side of the world to see how steely the competition really is and how easy on the other hand to be blinded by the misconceptions of a seemingly golden success. The worldwide web and commercial bookstores tell different stories. On the contrary, another Malaysian writer Rani Manicka's The Rice Mother had a delicious long run in displays roundabout the place, spanning a few good years.
The reason is clear. With the exception of brilliant South Asian writers like Jhumpa Lahiri, who easily command worldwide audiences, many multicultural titles first published in the USA, garner only a lukewarm effect among a UK reading audience. I mentioned this concern a few months ago and certainly on my trip to London this time round, have been proved right.

Monday 9 March 2009



by Suzan Abrams

The fat woman like a doll from plastic balls
sings and blinks and winks and drinks.

She dances with a pounce and hefty trounce
she tosses up her petticoats, a flabby baby bounce.

She slips over her husband again and again
and slides down him like a cushion in pain.

The fat woman with her assortment of rubber moons
will float and swim from chin to skin.

Anchored pillows to puff up her bladder
she makes rough love with a buxomy shudder.

Sing not and want not while you murmur a croon
and the fat woman will take up your lusty tune.

Sing not and want not, and monkey up a drunk
and the fat woman will flee you, the scurrying startled skunk.


Picture stolen from Boter

Sunday 8 March 2009

Flying to Dublin Monday afternoon.

suzan abrams

Triple helpings.
Soft puffs and
cream cakes.

Saturday 7 March 2009

Thunderstorms in Malaysia

suzan abrams

Lush rains,
tropical sea.
Damp kissing shoulders.
spilling ice.

Friday 6 March 2009

I'm in London for a few days before Dublin. I'm going to be in this city more often. Heathrow immigration took just 2 minutes this morning.
It was minus 1 degree celsius when I arrived!
I feel strange somewhat after my roller-coaster weather ride. :-)
Came to my regular airport hotel. Lots of good acquaintances here, just like Africa and Dubai. After my few adventures, England feels safe and homey.
Next week, I'll
a) post the full interview with Margaret Atwood which took almost an hour at the Emirates Festival for Literature, as she talked on various subjects. We were also treated to novels signed with her Long Pen, an invention, demonstrated to us with good humour from her study.
b) the talks on the plight of Novel-Writing in Saudi Arabia - and the bans which often come with the subject - an event which proved comical and theatrical as some Arab writers got highly annoyed with each other and tempers became frayed. They were emotional and intense about what they believed to be true of their own works.
c) More on Rajaa al Sanea, bestselling novelist for Girls of Riyadh
d) the interview with American-Iranian novelist/dancer Anita Amirezzvani by charismatic BBC radio personality, John Blezard.
e) the painstaking life of the translator as you could never imagine.
d) What the Middle-East's most distinguished translator Denys Johnson-Davis shared with me on famous Egyptian writers of the past.
e) Khalid-al-Khamis, a young handsome Egyptian novelist, recently popular for the bestselling Taxi a collection of short tales from the streets of Cairo.
f) Kate Mosse and Victoria Hislopp.
g) Wilbur Smith.
h) Frank McCourt and Chimamanda Adichie, although here I tend to agree with what Joseph Ridgewell (The Bomber) once mercilessly remarked on the Guardian Books Blog about Adichi and the Orange Prize for Fiction.
and more as and when.
PS: By the way, new airport terminals are massive. It's a very long way to walk to Abu Dhabi's new terminal 3 but walk one must. Rows of new duty-free stores are set up at this brand new terminal where all the connections to Britain and Ireland are placed. The thing is you get off first at Terminal 1 but then are required to transfer to Terminal 3. I daresay, it's longer even than Dubai's vast new terminal.

Wednesday 4 March 2009

I'm off to London!
If it wasn't for missing Des and my book of ghost stories that now have to be readied for production, I would have inched my way slowly back to Heathrow at some point, reaching England maybe only a year from now. I would have headed to other destinations first.
But there are people waiting for me now.
I have been listening to my Arabian trance music as my only salvation for reaching British immigration while still awake, although very much jet-lagged and properly burnt from the safaris.

Tuesday 3 March 2009

I am in Kuala Lumpur at the moment but need to rest as I am badly jet-lagged. No thanks of course, to the severe climatic and temperature changes. I have been flying since the start of December last year.
I will be on a flight again in the next 2 or 3 days and will start once more on the subject of books and writing in Dublin.
I have also halted the publication of my book of ghost stories for a couple of months since I was on the move and not able to check proofs, although I did manage to approve one promotion ad that was sent to me by the marketing department everyday with determination, until I approved it. :-)

Sunday 1 March 2009


I'm flying early tomorrow and will return to this blog in about 2 days.

I lost my luggage key in the Kilamanjaro mountain somewhere and chose to leave part of my luggage in Africa for when I next returned...some months from now. The thing is I only realised the loss 4 hours before catching my Dubai flight.

It would have been a simple thing for maintainance at the hotel where I stayed to have broken the lock, except that things are dangerously slow in Dar es Salaam and that being a veteran traveller here, I knew better than to take the risk. So at the time, I went out and bought another bag.
Had I ferried my locked bag with me, I would have subjected myself to the further perils of a missed flight in case any airport security officer, settled on some curious attention towards my contents. You just never know with East Africa, so it's always better to play safe, especially that my bag stored no valuables.
This morning in Dubai, I purchased a winter wardrobe all over again and I have numerous books I picked up at the festival. I also bought some arabic world-cinematic dvds - in this case, I chose Beirut, Lebanon. I also greedily I must say, picked up various cds on the arabic chillout series - such seductive sensual and trance like music - I haven't really been able to find any of these anywhere else except at the Virgin Megastore in the UAE. It's London branch doesn't stock them. The tracks are totally out of this world. I was told by the cashier that I wasn't the only foreign visitor to have felt this way about the music. At least, I'll know where to come for my modern arabic cds next-time.

Now I have to start the business of packing once more.

When I return to Dublin in about a week, I will write about all the events I attended and too, the many authors I met and listened to. I haven't said anything here especially of how theatrical the talks on Middle-Eastern literature turned out to be, how terrific the likes of Kate Mosse, historian Victoria Hislopp, Rachel Billington or Wilbur Smith were, or how interesting yesterday's celebration of a major poetry reading conducted by Carol Ann Duffy, Grace Nichols, the amusing John Agard, Simon Armitage or London-based Indian poet, Imtiaz Dharker, turned out to be. Or even - and forgive my clumsily-spaced sentences here - that Rajaa al-Sanea for Girls of Riyadh had suddenly hugged and kissed me when I told her that her novel was to be found in the UK and that I myself had picked up a copy in Dublin.
Living in Chicago, al-Sanea had no idea her bestseller was stocked in West Europe, was simply elated and said that I had made her day. She is a pretty little thing, easily tickled at her picture in the papers, naturally affectionate and everyone's darling, is pint-sized dentist , Rajaa al-Sanea.