Panellist for the Cooler Lumpur Festival 2013

It was an exciting experience being one of the panellists for the discussion – New Malay Literature: The Changing Face of the Malay Author – at the Cooler Lumpur Festival (21 – 23 June 2013). With a discussion title as such, it is of my passion to explore further as I come across more and more people who throw me the question, “Why do I choose to write in Malay?”

Many people believe that when one picks up a work of Malay literature, it is written by the Malays for the Malays. It is a misperception that should be re-reviewed by the society as Bahasa Malaysia is our national language. Everyone learns it in school, thus everyone can read and write the language. Thus, the Malay literature is not constrained only to a certain group of readers; in fact, it is accessible to any Malaysians.

Together with Uthaya Shankar and Alfian Sa’at, we discussed and shared our thoughts on Malaysian non-Malay authors crafting a path in the local literature scene. Our discussion included topics such as the reason behind our choice of language, our identity as Malay authors and what’s happening in the market of Malay fiction. The session was moderated by Umapagan Ampikaipakan.

Presented by the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the British Council, the Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference is a unique series of events that are bringing writers together around the world to create an historic picture of the role of literature today. The conversation began in August 2012 at the Edinburgh International Book Festival where 50 world renowned writers joined members of the public every afternoon of 17 – 21 August 2012 to discuss the five topics that almost brought writers to blows during the infamous Writers’ Conference of 1962.

In Malaysia, panellists will be having discussions on the topics of “Censorship Today“, “Should Literature be Political” and “A National Literature” to add to the already bubbling discussions that had been happening around the world. New Malay Literature: The Changing Face of the Malay Author is one of the panel discussions held in view of this.