Another Malaysia: Maniam's short stories

Wicks, Peter (2001) Another Malaysia: Maniam's short stories. In: Malaysian literature in English: a critical reader. Longman/Pearson Education Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, pp. 290-297. ISBN 9837419563


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K S Maniam is a prolific writer, with two novels, plays, and numerous short stories to his credit. The manuscript of a third novel, Delayed Passage, is finished, and awaits publication abroad. An intense, reserved, but courteous person, Maniam lives with his wife and two teenage children in a modest, two-storeyed, detached house in Subang, one of the dormitory suburbs of Kuala Lumpur. It was my privilege to visit him there last December, and engage in the discussions on which, together with his fictional works, this analysis is based. Despite his critically-acclaimed literary achievements, Maniam is denied official recognition and public acclaim in his country of birth because he chooses to write in English rather than the national language known as Bahasa Malaysia. Yet there are valid reasons for his choice of literary medium, reasons that are inherent in Malaysia's modern history as former British colony and now independent state to which immigrant communities have made a vital contribution. Nor does his use of English render him less authentic a Malaysian than his literary counterparts in that country. Reading Maniam’s stories makes readers aware of what Mohamad A Quayum has called “the presence of a local variety of English, infused with local colour and the tempo of local life.” (1} Indeed, Maniam’s works are imbued with the vibrancy of the Malaysian landscape, both human and physical.

Earlier studies of K S Maniam’s literary output have focussed on his novels and plays, and on the Malaysian landscapes in his work.(2) Maniam is first and always a story teller, however, and it is his short fiction and its salient characteristics which constitute the main focus of this paper on this occasion. With his concern to portray marginal experience, whether linguistic, immigrant, female, or dispossessed, Maniam helps give voice to another Malaysia and its sense of psychic and cultural deprivation.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Awaiting copyright advice.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Arts - Department of Humanities and International Studies (Up to 31 Mar 2011)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Arts - Department of Humanities and International Studies (Up to 31 Mar 2011)
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2007 01:04
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2018 00:20
Uncontrolled Keywords: Maniam, Malaysian literature, Malaysia
Fields of Research (2008): 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200519 South-East Asian Literature (excl. Indonesian)
Fields of Research (2020): 47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4705 Literary studies > 470529 South-East Asian literature (excl. Indonesian)

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