19 June 2009

Weekend Reading List

On Friday, after (a greasy and salty) lunch with my colleagues B and B at the Bukit Merah Central Dim Sum Palace (with its row of plastic maple trees and fake jade lions), I browsed the makeshift second-hand books stand outside Pancake Paradise while they did their minor errands. The yellowed books were neatly compacted on a plywood board the size of a door, covered with a lino sheet of blue gerbera. I knew I was fated to read Tash Aw's debut novel The Harmony Silk Factory when I spotted it among the distressed chick-lit tomes. I had a mental note of his second novel because I had just read its glowing review. Tash Aw (what a name!) is the Malaysian version of Zadie Smith. The book in my hand felt slightly dusty, it's cover lurid and slighty creased. I don't think it was read much. Should I buy it? It's $5.60. I tried to bargain it down but the aunty who was fanning herself with an NTUC Lifestyle brochure (who looked like she never read a book in her entire life) said no discount unless I bought $40 worth, then I'll get 10%. $40 of second-hand books is quite a lot of trash. I left the stand.
I went to look at the kaya swiss rolls at Pancake Paradise.
I went to look at the bargain bins at the discount shop (six lighters, $0.90, laundry net, $0.40).
I went back and bought the book.
I'm loving it. Mr Aw really is a story-teller. I started reading it in the cab home and I haven't put it down since. It's The Joy Luck Club for boys.
I'm also leafing back and forth over Latiff Mohidin: Journey to Wetlands and Beyond, a coffee-table book of drawings by the celebrated Malaysian artist and poet (I'm still deciding if I like his work or not). I "culled" this book from the office.
So it's turning out to be a Malaysia Truly Asia weekend for me.