Friday 28 December 2007

GUiT reading at Seksan's - 29th Dec 2007

Apologies to all. I have not been able to update my blog . Suffice to say the launch and booksigning in Kuala Terengganu went very well. Will blog about it soon. But in the meantime, do come to a GUiT reading on 29th December - TOMORROW!!!

This is from Sharon Bakar's blog:

Readings” December: The Christmas and New Year Edition
Catch our next monthly writers event:
Date: 29th December, 2007
Time: 3.30pm
Place: Seksan's, 67, Jalan Tempinis Satu,
Lucky Garden, Bangsar (Map)

The readers for this month are:
Patrick Teoh
Ajay M.K.
Amir Hafizi
Awang Goneng (Wan. A. Hulaimi)
Shinji Moriwaki
Dina Zaman
Admission free, snacky things and drinks provided, and everyone very welcome.Please pass on the invitation to anyone else you think might be interested.

Oh, I have some links here - of reports and blogs and photopages. Thank you to all who posted entries and pictures of GUiT in Terengganu.

An interview with Su Aziz of NST
A review by Datin Norzita Samad
A news item in NST
The Star
Kak E's blog
Mat Redo 1
and Cili

Saturday 22 December 2007

GUiT going to Terengganu

Dear Readers,

Am going to be very, very lazy and just reproduce this press release here. See you there!

Launch of Terengganu book at its ‘spiritual home’

A first for Kuala Terengganu and for the Alam Akademik bookshop (formerly Abdullah Al Yunani) in the heart of the town’s commercial district: the launch on 25th December 2007 of Growing Up in Trengganu (GUiT), a book of recollections, reflection, Trengganuspeak and the history of its sultans and people.

The launch will be attended by the book’s author Awang Goneng (who in real life is Trengganu-born writer Wan Ahmad Hulaimi) who will do a short reading and sign copies of GUiT.

Alam Akademik, the pioneering bookshop that is now put on the literary road map by references to it in GUiT has a special place in writer Awang Goneng’s heart. “I regard this as the spiritual home of GUiT. I bought my first books here, and my father used to take me here to buy his kitabs and newspapers. It is very apt now that I have written my own book, I have chosen to launch it in this shop,” he says.

Growing Up in Trengganu (now widely referred to as GUiT) has been a publishing phenomenon, chalking success soon after its publication by taking a position in MPH’s top ten Non-Fiction list, and rising to its top position by mid December. The book became a much sought after title in bookshops in peninsular Malaysia soon after its debut appearance at the world famous Frankfurt Book Fair in October. Now, barely three months after publication, publisher Monsoon Books is already making preparations for GUiT’s second printing to meet growing demands.

“The success of GUiT has taken me by surprise. I started it as a blog on my growing up days in the small town of Kuala Trengganu to tell my children what it was like growing up in small town Malaysia. They were all born and brought up in London and have no idea what it is like to grow up in KL, never mind Kuala Trengganu,” Awang Goneng says.

“We are happy to host the launch of a successful book by a son of Terengganu, especially one whose reading habit we helped to build,” says Encik A Karim Omar of the Alam Akademik.

The place:

Alam Akademik, No. 12 Jalan Bandar/Kg. Cina, 20100 Kuala Terengganu

Tel: 09-623-1110; website:

The date: 25th December 2007 The time: 11am – 1 pm

For more information, please contact:

Karim Omar 019-3199788

What they say about GUiT

"A beautiful book, very well written and with its vignettes of life it tells so much about the Malays - far more than one can get from academic studies."
— Frederick Lees,
author, Fool's Gold; The Arthuriad; The Rape of Rye; etc.

“Growing Up in Trengganu, a nostalgic journey beautifully written. Monsoon books have also done a wonderful job in its production. The typesetting, quality of paper, design, combined with the old black and white photographs…a real joy.”

- Tunku Halim, author and blogger.

“A modern classic.” – Tengku Ali Bustaman (Pok Ku), Popular Terengganu blogger.

“Awang Goneng does with words what Lat does with pictures,” – Annabel Gallop, Head, South and Southeast Asian Section, British Library

Growing Up in Trengganu

By Awang Goneng

Published by: Monsoon Books Singapore
ISBN: 978-981-05-8692-8

Friday 14 December 2007

Random Sharings Part 2

Anniversaries of sorts

It is December and we found ourselves on the road down memory lane. It must have been the second time in 28 years that we made this journey together to Singapore. The first was when we went there to take the flight to London. I was then a tearful bride leaving for a foreign land with a future firmly placed in the hands of God Almighty. The road that we took by car was a far cry from the modern highway dotted with R & R’s. The 6.45 Aeroline to Singapore was one hour late because of the rain, but I must admit the service was fantastic.

Twenty eight years ago, all manner of thoughts played in my mind but this time, it was filled with excitement and anticipations. Singapore holds memories of school holidays, walks in the Botanical Gardens, visits to Makam Habib Noh, of fresh buah lai and imported apples and gawking at window displays of Robinsons with Pak Lang – his words still ringing clear in my head: “Ni lah tempat orang-orang kaya shopping”, he said, as we walked away.

This time the visit to Singapore was almost like a visit to the official birthplace of GUiT. It was the launch of Growing Up in Trengganu, a meeting with publisher Philip Tatham of Monsoon Books and with friends old and new. GUiT was launched with four other titles. Read more about it here.

It was a very short visit and before we took the Singapore- Malacca Express the next day, we visited Makam Habib Noh once again to offer our respects.

We arrived in Malacca, all sweaty and tired, to be greeted by songs of gazal and gambus at a friend’s wedding. Nurul’s parents had decided to take her back from London to Malaysia for a real kampong style wedding and what a treat it was for us to find a big group of ex Londonders occupying two big tables. This was the first of several weddings that we attended.

Selamat pengantin baru to Leya and Ashraf

The other wedding was of course that of the famous daughter of an equally famous mum. It was held at The Legend and again a reunion of sorts with friends and ex colleagues from Jalan Riong.

Yes, I remember this day in December. “Twenty eight years ago, today”, I told Leya, “your mum was at my wedding, putting my veil in place. Today, I am returning the honours by attending your wedding.”Pengantin lama

When the radiant bride and groom left the stage to meet their guests, cheered on by some friends, we took over the stage, short of sitting on the dias, to take the 28 years later picture.

The GUiT Trip
One of the reasons for our home coming is of course to see how GUiT is doing in the homegrounds. On arrival at KLIA, I was disappointed to see that the bookshop there did not stock GUiT. I made my first visit to MPH Midvalley – again, this confirmed the comments and reports from people in search of GUiT. None- in this case – only one copy lodged in between other books at the Malaysiana section.

My next stop was MPH Alamanda – none at all. And by this time, I was ready to speak to someone to try to understand how the distribution of books works in the absence of the writer himself promoting it. I was lucky that I met a very helpful and kind MPH manager who explained to me how the whole system works. Of course, it is the distributor's job to push the books and to keep on asking if the stores need anymore. And if the copies run out, shops too should contact distributors to ask for more, especially when people are asking for it. In the case of GUiT, I don’t know what went wrong.

Then Kind and Helpful MPH manager took out his phone and made one phone call. The next day – most of MPH stores were stacked with GUiT. And this week – GUiT made it to NUMBER ONE best seller non fiction at MPH from a humble number ten at the beginning. Thank you all for the support. Tabby and his siblings will be mighty pleased with this news.

Indeed, there have been several GUiT meets kindly organized by blogger friends. Thank you again. We are so touched by such wonderful gestures and support from people, some we have never met before. I hope and pray that our friendship goes beyond GUiT.

We will soon be going to Kuala Trengganu for a booksigning session at what AG calls the spiritual birthplace of GUiT. So, do come, one and all. It will not be a grand one, just a modest occasion where we can meet and talk and get to know each other. Thanks to Encik Karim of Alam Akademik (Keda Pok Loh Yunan). For more information, click here.

I guess we will still be doing the rounds now that we are here. Hope to meet up with whoever wish to meet up with us, soon. Insyaallah.

Sunday 2 December 2007

Random thoughts ala JT

JT of Jacqui’s Curve has given me an idea on how to update my blog. She doesn't know what to blog about but has filled an entire blog with all sorts of interesting stories. Now, I will try to do the same.

I don't know what to blog about. Do I write about my trip to Manchester to watch Manchester United play Blackburn Rovers? I can’t write about the game because I just do not understand football. I can’t tell a corner kick from a penalty kick. I am more of a board game person, letting my fingers and mind do the exercise. Games like Scrabble. However, that wasn’t my first time at the famous Old Trafford. The first time was in August to see Manchester United play Inter Milan. And it was with my Taufiq, a diehard Barcelona fan who wouldn't be seen dead at the Old Trafford but for the love of his mama, he accompanied me on what must have been a mission to bond.

The whole stadium was a sea of red. Taufiq had briefed me earlier, “Never,” he warned, “never clap or cheer if Inter Milan scored," he said looking worried. He gave me some tips and grunted a few answers to some silly questions and by half time, I was able to oooh and aaaah at the right moment. But just as Taufiq was gaining confidence in my knowledge of football, I asked, “Isn’t Mark Owen playing today?”

(Oh yes, the day before at the Man Utd training ground, I saw Taufiq talking to someone vaguely familiar – It was Sir Bobby Charlton. Taufiq was worried that I might address him as Fergie. As if!!)

Suffice to say, even though Man Utd lost to a thunderous groan reverberating around the stadium, the fans were well behaved and I was even treated to a streaker running across the field at half time.

But no such luck at the Man Utd vs Blackburn Rovers match. However I had the advantage of sitting in the media box with a radio commentator right behind me and so I knew what was going on.

Fancy a trip on the Eurostar to Paris?

To those contemplating going to Paris on the Eurostar, you’d be glad to know that the Eurostar journey to Paris now starts at St Pancras International and the time taken to get there is now shorter by 20 minutes.

I went to Paris five days after the new spanking station was launched by the Queen and although I wasn’t very impressed by the new station which I thought was cold and unfriendly, with no seats or cash machines, I was quite impressed by the service on the train. Before our tea went cold, we were already at Ashford International. But because of the speed, we walked from the buffet bar back to our seats like sailors on a rough sea.

If my last visit to Paris was in autumn with its fascinating dashes of colour, this time Paris was wet and NOT MOVING!!! Paris was on strike.

Let’s see what else has been happening in my life...

Preeta Samarasan

Oh, I met the delightful Preeta Samarasan whose first novel "Evening is The Whole Day" will come out in the US of A in May!! This is how it has been described, so look out for it when it hits the bookshops.

“A MAGICAL, EXUBERANT tragic-comic vision of postcolonial Malaysia reminiscent of Rushdie and Roy. In prose of acrobatic grace, Samarasan conjures a vibrant portrait, by turns intimate and sweeping, of characters and a country coming of age. The début of a significant, and thrilling, new talent.” Peter Ho Davies, Man Booker Prize-longlisted author of The Welsh Girl (2007).

Writers, first time or many times over, fascinate me. I love to hear about how they work a certain idea to produce a book, how they find a suitable title. I mean, do you find the title first and work your plots and storyline or do you write first and find a title. You see, silly things like this stops me from producing my opus...if ever there is one.

Preeta now lives in France with her husband Rob. While in America, she gave up pursuing her PhD in Musicology to write. And I’d say its a good career move. Sometimes you just have to be brave and then make the sacrifice to do the things you love.

A bit of a weep

Yesterday, I had a bit of a weep -right there smack in the middle of the Christmas rush in Oxford Street. He hugged me and said goodbye and I walked quickly away not wanting him to see the tears. The rain helped.

I thought when he told me he was leaving, it was another joke. When I realised teh seriousness of it all, I thought I’d throw my tantrums and pray to God like I did the last time, until his plans failed. But this time, I thought it is best to let him go. I didn't cry when he slung his guitar across his shoulders and got into the taxi. I didn’t cry when he told me he needed a kuali. I even gave him my mee bandung recipe. But yesterday, watching him choose his cooking pot at M&S, the dam burst. My first born has flown the nest. See you in Facebook, sayangmama!

Oh dear.

GUiT News

Two days ago, I was woken up by the familiar tone of the sms – the message said: Minister wants to buy 100 copies of GUiT! Couldn’t believe my eyes and quickly guit-up eh, got up and woke the GuiTer to show him the message.

I think we have been selling more here than the bookshops in Malaysia. In the manner of our sastrawan negara , Dato A Samad Said, who carries his books in his rucksack, Awang Goneng has been doing the same, taking them to bookshops across London. And lo and behold, GUiT is now available at two London Bookshops – and I can bet they are not stacked in the lower shelves! They are available in London at Stanfords, the travel bookshop in Long Acre, Covent Garden and from Probsthain's @ Great Russell St., WC1 (opp. the British Museum; and at their branch in the Brunei Gallery, SOAS (London University).

There’s a publishers' launch of GUiT in Singapore next week (Singapore Writer's Festival) on 7th December at Arts House. So, if you are just across the causeway do come and join us. Yes, we are going back. Then we will head back to Kuala Lumpur for I understand Awang Goneng has a few appointments for booktalks at various universities. Otherwise, we will be downing teh tarek somewhere in between prawn noodles at Little Penang.

Latest GUiT news from En Karim of ALAM AKADEMI in Kuala Terengganu:

GUiT is now available at ALAM AKADEMIK (Keda Pok Loh Yunang) Kuala Terengganu - depan Pasar Keda Payang - yes the same old location.

For those in KL, FREE DELIVERY service is provided [will try a next-business-day delivery] C.O.D RM39.90 *LIMITED TIME OFFER* {lepah ni mungking nok kena cah se-riyal dua pulok - kalu nok beli sendiri parking & tol doh berapa!}

sms/call - 019-3199788

Mentions of GUiT at:
* Tunku Halim
* NZ in NZ * MHI
* Pok Ku
* Ubi Setela
*Lydia Teh *Lifeinside *KC * Eric Forbes
* Berita Harian * Ena Samad * Elviza *Sharon Bakar *Blooking Central *Anak Alam
*hicsuntdracones *Bin Gregory *Victoria Institute Website *Atok *Knizam
*Ms Istanbul *Pak Adib *Athene * Nazrah
* Wonda