Interpreter of Winds

Review of Fairoz Ahmad’s Interpreter of Winds (Ethos Books, 2019)

Review

A pious canine argues with a camel, a windy night lasts for years, and a Javanese keris blade is wielded to murder a village witch in Fairoz Ahmad’s enchanting short story collection Interpreter of Winds. A quick and charming read, this book includes four magical tales across Islamic communities in the Indonesian and Malay world. Some take place in a stylized colonial past and some in the contemporary world, where current struggles crash against the fantastical.

The main story with the same title of the collection follows the quest of a talking dog, whose master is unconscious of the adventure his canine pet is about to have. The dog wants to be inducted into the Islamic faith as a true Muslim like his master and sets out on journey after meeting a cantankerousness camel named Ghati on the roads. The dog soon endears himself to Ghati as they go in search of the winds of all four points. Upon meeting one of the fabled winds, the wind requests an “appropriate gift” to assist the faithful canine in his search. Another tale is then woven within the first as the dog responds, “The only gift I could offer to you is the gift of stories.”

This becomes… [click here to continue to read full text]

*Review of Fairoz Ahmad’s Interpreter of Winds originally published in Asian Review of Books by T. F. Rhoden; photo image credit of for this re-post is via wallup.net. Unless otherwise stated, all posts on this website are under Creative Commons license.

Cuppa?

Support independent content and reviews by donating Monero or Bitcoin. Never used Monero or Bitcoin before? Check them out because it’s a little bit of the future that’s alive today!

  • Monero: 41iipxFPrFrew7D7aTsmzu52JqRgo7ukkGXVrM3BXwMwinJwKwUGBA89aZDGwX6qSfUFEJcTX3qyQcLyUR4ZWuv9R9tMZZK
  • Bitcoin: 3J5tW5rwSwXVf7X6ikdr1QdY7scCNaSQ5m

Malay Sketches

Review of Alfian Sa’at’s Malay Sketches (Gaudy Boy, 2018)

Review

Exploring identity in a multi-ethnic community through fiction can be a sensitive subject. The importance people place on identity is often a prickly topic these days—especially in multi-religious, multiracial communities like that of Singapore’s five and a half million citizens. In November 2017, the Singaporean Institute of Policy Studies presented evidence that for the first time more Singaporeans identify with the city-state than with their own ethnic lineage. The remaining half of survey respondents, however, still felt a “simultaneous” identity of both Singaporean and racial heritage.

Yet these statistics only go so far in understanding the subject’s sensitivity for many people. Alfian Sa’at’s Malay Sketches is a short story collection that achieves a balance between the sensitive nature of analyzing race and ethnicity from the perspective of a minority and a playful inventiveness by making the discussion seem lighthearted. First published in 2012 by Ethos Books, it be will released early in 2018 for the international market by the new imprint Gaudy Boy.

In ethnically-Chinese dominated Singapore, Aflian’s perspective in these short stories is valuable for investigating the daily lives of those individuals who may not fit the stereotypical, Chinese-looking Singaporean. Alfian, who is himself a Singaporean Muslim of mixed Hakka, Javanese, and Minangkabau descent, is a creative interpreter of Singapore’s unique society for outsiders.

In total, Malay Sketches contains forty-eight stories. Some stories are… [click here to continue to read full text]

MS_COVER (2)

*Review originally published in Asian Review of Books by T. F. Rhoden; photo image credit of Singaporean Islamic Hub for this re-post goes to this 32cravenfan. Unless otherwise stated, all posts on this website are under Creative Commons license.

Cuppa?

Support independent content and reviews by donating Monero or Bitcoin. Never used Monero or Bitcoin before? Check them out because it’s a little bit of the future that’s alive today!

  • Monero: 41iipxFPrFrew7D7aTsmzu52JqRgo7ukkGXVrM3BXwMwinJwKwUGBA89aZDGwX6qSfUFEJcTX3qyQcLyUR4ZWuv9R9tMZZK
  • Bitcoin: 3J5tW5rwSwXVf7X6ikdr1QdY7scCNaSQ5m