Sunday 21 June 2009

A wife’s gotta do what a wife’s gotta do

It has been a long time since I wrote anything GUiT. But the time has come for me to do my wifely duties and write things GUiT again.

I vividly remember the day we received the news that GUiT was finally going to be published. To say that I was more overjoyed and over the moon compared to the writer is not far from the truth. I was ecstatic. Deliriously so. He, being the man he is, was more composed, allowing only a smile and later broke into a brief jig around the room with the children. But that is him.

The day the books arrived, hot from the printers in Singapore, we were again overjoyed; my smile never left my face and for months it ached because I was/is that proud of my Awang Goneng.

We had the books delivered for the soft launch at the Royal Asiatic Society in London and I took to bringing five to ten books with me in my huge bag, the writer himself not suspecting anything. People I met at functions, press conferences and even from across the road, were targeted as possible buyers and readers of GUiT.

Take this for example: an interview with the then Foreign Minister. When I finished the interview, I boldly said: Can I interest you in a book written by my husband?

Of course he was interested, for he himself writes books and later congratulated AG personally.

Then there was the time we went to the bank and I saw a familiar face at the till. He was from the former cabinet, in charge of Finance. Once it was confirmed it was him, I said my salam and had small chats. AG began retreating in the background suspecting that any minute then, Iwas going to whip out GUiT to the unsuspecting former minister. And of course I did.

By then I was resigned to the fact that my husband only wanted to write the book and keep them all locked up in his cupboard. He'd shy away from any GUiT talk so much so I had to be the spokesperson, the salesperson and the pr all in one.

He worries that people might not find it interesting; a book he wrote only for his children, about his growing up years in a small town in Trengganu. About the Trengganu still alive in his memories. But I knew better.

I was on assignment in Paris two years ago. And then I decided to return the generosity of our Culture Minster who had kindly given me his book. So, I signed a book on AG's behalf and sent it through his officer. Within a week, I received orders for 500 books, and much later 500 more.

And there were many more. I took some books to a seminar in Liverpool and I believe I sold more books than the book stall outside the conference room.

So, imagine my shock when I read that in Malaysia the books were not selling and people couldn't find it anywhere. So, I went back, initially to attend the launch of the book alone in Singapore as the writer himself felt that he couldn't/wouldn't make the journey. (But later, I somehow twisted anything twistable, and he relented and came along).

My first few days in KL, I went around the bookshops and I couldn't find GUiT anywhere - not in MPH, Kino or anywhere. I was devastated. Those I found were sandwiched between Dina Zaman's I am Muslim and Lydia Teh's Life's Like That. Or hidden behind mountains of Samy Velloos!

So, it was then that I decided that I had to do something. There's no limit to a wifely duty. I approached a manager at a bookshop, explained my predicament, my frustrations. My husband, had he been there would have fainted with embarrassment. But, the manager, bless him, saw the book, believed in its potential and made just one phonecall that within one week saw GUiT in the best sellers list.

It was less hard work after that, though I still carry a copy or two in my bag these days.

The reason I am doing this promotion again is simple; GUiT has been shortlisted for the Popular-Star Readers Choice Awards 2009 for non fiction. Here's the list:

Yvonne Lee - Vanity Drive: The Vagaries of Women's Vanity
Sheik Mustapha Shukor Al-Masrie - Reach for the Stars
Adeline Loh - Peeing in the Bush
Adibah Amin - Glimpses : Cameos of Malaysian Lives
Paddy Bowie - Datuk Teh Hong Pow : Banking Thoroughbred
Kee Thuan Chye : March 8: The Day Malaysia Woke Up
Tun Mahathir & Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad - Dr. Mahathir's Letters to World Leaders
Rustam A. Sani - Failed Nation? Concerns of a Malaysian Nationalist
Amir Muhammad - New Malaysian Essays 1
Awang Goneng - Growing Up in Terengganu

According to Sharon Bakar: Voting will be once again via the Star's Reads Monthly Supplement. The bookstore is organising promotions of the books and from June onwards, customers that visit POPULAR outlets will get 20% discount when they buy any of the nominated books. The winner will be announced at Bookfest @ Malaysia 2009.

So, if you've not read GuiT, give t a try. Below are just some of you who helped make GUiT a success!! Thank you!!!


And AG, Happy Father's Day!!!


[danial][ma] said...

hej! Kak Teh...will try my luck to get GUiT at Popular...failed to get it last time at Probsthain's...good wifely job and AG must be proud of you...;-)

Kak Elle said...

bravo..bravo and my sincere award to one istri mithali...good job KT:)

Pak Zawi said...

Kak Teh,
Where on earth can anybody find another wife like you?

Kak Teh said...

danial, ya, Probstain has just a few copies. Are you back in Malaysia?

Kak Elle, hahaha, like i said, a wife has gotta do what a wife has got to do! Thanks for the award!

Kak Teh said...

Pak Zawi, that is little compared to what he will do for me. And I am eternally grateful for that. am sure your wife will do the same.

Memorable trails... said...

I ll get the book the soonest k teh.
Happy father 's day to your AG.He must be proud of you.

tireless mom said...

Hi Kak Teh

You are such a darling wife. I saw GUIT at a friend's house. Read it a little bit and that was it. Sorry lah lepas tu tak take the initiative to buy the book, well I am being honest here.

But I like it. I wish someone would have written Growing Up in NS.

AG must share the royalty with you for being you.

zaitgha said...

Wanted to boy and meet both of your when you were down here last time...didnt see any here in Seremban...hopefully i manage to get one soon and hope to get it sign by the author himself....

Kak Teh said...

Madam Gold, thanks. I hope you will enjoy it.

TM, I wish there is a Growing Up series. There's one on Penang, but i think people should show more about their growing up years.

Zaitgha,Insyaallah we will get to meet soon. I do hope to go home next month, but I dont think my AG is tagging along someone's gotta look after the cats! haha!

Ms B said...


*grins* I was one of them. bought the book as msia hall. My copy has been passed to a few friends. They love it!

Happy dad's day to AG!

Naz in Norway said...

Dah baca! Dah baca! :D
Happy Father's Day, AG!

Wan Nordin Wan Hussin said...

Apart from a precious gift for the children, I feel GUiT is also a tribute to his parents. His evocation of his parents in GUiT is so tender and sublime. He immortalised them in a very touching way, the AG's way. GUiT deserves greater success.

NanaDJ said...

Kak Teh,
Did I tell you that I enjoyed reading the book so much that I kept telling everyone I met to buy and read the book. Bought a number of copies and gave them to those who are always to lazy to buy books. I never fail to tell those from Trengganu about the book, they should be proud of AG. I am although I am only a quarter orang 'Ganu. Happy Father's Day AG. You certainly are an isteri mithali!

Kak Teh said...

Ms B, you were easy target!!!

Naz, am glad you did. Now we can say GUiT has travelled to Norway.

Kak Teh said...

GUiKP, thanks so much for your support. Cant describe how touched we were to see you and family at the launch in Trengganu. So many people turned up, people who delayed going places, people who canceld other plans...thanks so much. GUiT brought a lot of people together.

NanaDJ, thank you too for your support. You are so kind to be frumming up publicity for GUiT. Isteri mithali,I am far from that. But I try. Thanks.

[danial][ma] said...

hej! Kak Teh...yup! in KL until july...and happy father's day to AG!

Kak Teh said...

Danial, have a good time there. Eat lots of durian. I hope to go back mid July, if I get the tickets.

xplorer said...

salam kak teh - i had visited awang goneng blog just now from pak zawi blog for the first time and i had leave a comment on how i love his style of writing.then i visited your blog and i was so suprised to know that awang goneng was your can i buy this book?

Kak Teh said...

salam xplorer, I am sure MPH , Popular Book store and Kino ada buku tu. In fact, because of the nominations, you can get the book from Popular Book store at a discount. Do go to Popular. Thanks.

mekyam said...

i'll be damned! if i were a man and we both weren't already married, i'd marry u myself KT! :D

congratters to the bashful AG for making the cut in that illustrious list!

[note to self: time to think of a few people to make a present of GUIT again.]

Kak Teh said...

hahahahaha, mekyam, you had me rolling on the floor there and gasping for breathe! Bashful he is indeed. Thanks for the support AND the proposal, i take it as that!

[danial][ma] said...

hej! Kak Teh...hope to meet you in KL soon...i might be traveling to GUiTland too sometimes in july...;-)

Kak Teh said...

Daniel, if ever we are there at the same time, let's meet. Will check blogs.

Ida Hariati Hashim said...

Salam Kak Teh,

Let me congratulate Mr. AG for his book. As for u, madam..I feel u have done a good job with the promotion of the book..Mr. AG is sooooo lucky to have u as his partner in life..:).

I will go ahunting for the GUiT, definitely..kat Popular ada ye..

Kak Teh said...

Ida, hehe, i try. That's all i can do, I am a lousy cook, not a terribly good and obedient wife, but I can sure sell his books! haha! Yes, do go to Popular and that would surely push the sales up.

Jane Sunshine said...

Kak Teh, no wifely duty is needed because GuIT really speaks for istelf. It is such a fantastic book, charming and beautifully written.

Have you thought of serialising it in the papers, it may bring more awareness of this gem.

Shahieda said...

I think you have lost your calling KT, you should have gone into marketing, hehehehe!!

Is the book written in english?? Do you think I'd be able to find a copy this side of the world??

Anonymous said...

Kak Teh: To have a father pen down his childhood memories for his children is something very rare indeed in this part of the world. Particularly when these memories are written with so much love, warmth and sincerity. And I love the way AG wrote GUiT. It allowed me to read the book cover to cover without having to reach for the Malay-English dictionary at every turn.

Kak Teh said...

Jane, thanks for that suggestion, but i think usually its the publisher's job to do that, right? let me see whose arms I can twist.

Shahieda, oh no...seriously, I am aweful where business is concerned. Yes, the book is in English and when you go to Malaysia, am sure you can find it there.

Kak Teh said...

Andrea, it is the kind of book you can dip into at anytime. and I think it is funny as well as sad. Thanks.

Wan Nordin Wan Hussin said...

Yes, Kak Teh. GUiT is a comfort book indeed. When I desperately need some inspiration I reach for my GUiT. Likewise when I'm craving for a liitle giggle. Wits aplenty.

I was also touched by your graciousness at Alam Akademik. When it was AG's turn to sign my books, you came forward and kneeled down to whisper sweet something to him. Your gesture is bak resmi padi, Kak Teh.

siakap said...

Kak Teh,
My daugther presented GUIT to me a month after it launched but before i could read it, I was admitted to hospital for eyes surgery. The doctor advised me not to strain my eyes for at least a month. Then i totally forgot about the book. When i read your blog today, I went to search it, but my wife told me one of my cousins "curi" and promised to return after reading it, but he/she must forget about it. I shall get it back.

Heidi said...

Hey Kak Teh!

Also had trouble finding the book at Suria's Kinokuniya so bought Harry Potter versi melayu instead (AND, finally, a dictionary)!

My fellow intern was so impressed when I told him over lunch that the writer of the Malay book he was studying over his nasi goreng kampung used to be my teacher! ;)

After a trip to Cherating (our first kampung experience) the other week with other interns who are going to the Pehentians this weekend, I might be able to do a bit of lobbying for the book! :)

M-O-M said...

Salam K.Teh,

just got GUIT for my dad's birthday from mph alamanda. he's a book addict. i told him that it might initiate him writing his own version of GUI...HM (Hutan Melintang that is). totally love the first few pages! regards to the author.


4AS said...

You did such a great job promoting the book! I was aware of the book after being told about it by my friend a few months ago. But at that time they had trouble getting the supply from major bookshops in KL. So, I figured it'd be more dificult to find it in penang. May be I'll find one soon..