Sunday, 14 December 2008

The Malayan Trilogy

On 4th September 2008, siti nuraishah commented,
Interesting book. Why don't you write a longer review?

Well, siti, thanks for your comment. I only learned about it last week. Sorry about that. I'm afraid it got buried in time. One features missing over here is a way of see all the comments made.

I don't quite have the skills to write an actual book review. Book reviews are hard to write. It involves reading while paying attention to things that work and don't work, the facts about the book and other things. I'm still struggling to string words together to come up with a complete sentence, let alone a review. The best thing I can offer you is my 2 cents' worth.

The Malayan Trilogy is 3 books in one: Time for a Tiger, Enemy in the Blanket and Beds in the East. They are based on Burgess's experience a British officer in pre-Merdeka Malaya.

Many have speculated that Burgess might have channeled himself through Victor Crabbe, the novels' idealistic British Officer. Burgess had confessed his fascination with Malaya, its people and culture through some interviews later in his life. While in service here, Burgess learned Bahasa Melayu and mixed around with the many races, which is a very unsual behaviour for a colonial officer. Crabbe's wife Fenella wants to go back to England more than anything and his colleague Nabby Adams longs for India, a country to where his heart belongs.

The first book, in my opinion, is the funniest (they're all wickedly funny). It reminds me of sitcom episodes where the characters are skulking around, hiding secrets from others and seem to have something to lose. The second and third books hint at impending dooms, where Crabbe will soon face an adversary and something horrifying from his past. Despite being a trilogy, there are not many elements that connect the three books together, other than Crabbe and things that involves him. Burgess also says that all the books take place in different states.

The books are not for the easily-offended and Malaysian who feel strongly about their race. Burgess lays all the racial prejudices that we Malaysians have towards each other right on the tabletop. There's no escaping it. As a Malay, I myself am both amused and ashamed at Burgess's potrayal of the Malays. But they're quite true, to some extend. For instance, Burgess writes about Malays then who are casual drinkers, a claim I've heard couple of times already but still unable to verify.

It's astonishing how sharp Burgess's observations are. I thought he couldn't have just been here for several years only and wrote something like this. It's like he had lived here all his life. If there's any indication of what Burgess thinks of Malaya it might be hinted in the dedication. I think it's wonderful that the publisher has opted to retain the dedication in its original form.


John said...

Very nice blog.
Beautiful pictures and unique.

Please visit:

Keep blogging.
Happy holiday.
Peace on earth.

ASaL said...

nice blog, get here from Eika's blog


rol said...

Salam ASal,

Selamat datang. I hear you and eika are good friends. But then, eika is good to all her friends. :)

ieka said...

aish..patut tersedak2..ada org sebut nama saya di sini.. :">

najibah said...

Tulisan jawinya lebih cantik dari tulisan jawi saya :|

r.o.l. said...

Dan tulisan saya juga.

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