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Malay Sketches [PDF / Epub] ✓ Malay Sketches ★ Alfian Sa'at – Thomashillier.co.uk Malay Sketches is a collection of stories that borrows its name from a book of anecdotes by colonial governor Frank Swettenham describing Malay life on the Peninsula In Alfian Sa’at’s hands these Malay Sketches is a collection of stories that borrows its name from a book of anecdotes by colonial governor Frank Swettenham describing Malay life on the Peninsula In Alfian Sa’at’s hands these sketches are reimagined as flash fictions that record the lives of members of the Malay community in Singapore With precise and incisive prose Malay Sketches offers the reader profound insights into the realities of life as an ethnic minority.


10 thoughts on “Malay Sketches

  1. Tse Guang Tse Guang says:

    Malay Sketches begins with a story told from the perspective of a Chinese convert to Islam For me it was a clear sign of Alfian's project a representation of a culture to the outsider who is encouraged to put aside any ideological baggage he may have and see things from 'the other side' That this project both has its roots in and reacts against a certain cultural essentialism is clear enough; what truly surprised me was how this theoretical Other reader changed as the stories progressed In 'The Barbershop' for example the familiar postcolonial trope of two tongues is retrod; 'am I not also Malay?' is the uestion the boy seems to be asking at every instance The outsider to this interiority is the Malay who believes that the Malay language perhaps even the Islamic faith is a measure of Malay ness The very form of flash fiction prevents any sort of attachment to a single point of view and I think this points less to the diversity of 'Malay culture' whatever this might mean and to the fact that a single consciousness Alfian's? is able to express itself through multiple facets while at the very same time maintaining a stable core The culture that is represented here is not unproblematically Malay as it is Malay ness changing and being changed Of course I have some misgivings about this collection The style of writing is often compositional and didactic too often telling rather than showing In this case I ascribe the root of the problem less to the writer's ability and to an implicit politics that pervades the work Every 'Malay Ghost Story' becomes an increasingly formulaic deconstruction of folk belief clearly a form of realism is being pushed across to the reader 'Times are changing so Malays must change too' these might as well be real stories seem to say That strikes me as certainly a legitimate but not adeuate reason for cultural adaptation Secondly and surprisingly Issues of sexuality are elided in favour of the perennial contestation of 'race language religion'All in all a worthwhile read and clearly a landmark work but it seems to be written with an eye firmly on the Singaporean canon Thus Alfian's style which after some thought I have decided to call narrative paternalism often prefers to guide its reader to the point being made in a way utilizing a strategy of the state To be sure the contents of the sketches are progressive but their style remains staid The changing face of the Malay is still being drawn with traditional techniues It bespeaks the uneasy balance between nostalgia and modernization that plagues the Singaporean psyche


  2. Jason Lundberg Jason Lundberg says:

    A beautifully written collection providing a uniue insight into Singapore's Malay culture which has thus far been under represented in English language Singaporean writing I'm a big fan of flash fiction; it's an exceedingly difficult art form where an entire narrative must be distilled into less than a thousand words but Alfian proves exceptionally deft here at capturing small moments that bespeak big narratives Fully one uarter of these pieces are good enough to find their way into Year's Best anthologies I greatly hope that he returns to prose again in the future Highly recommended


  3. Lulu Rahman Lulu Rahman says:

    Words used are simple yet they stir up such provoking thoughts Are the Singaporean Malays just a bunch of lazy people leading a hedonistic lifestyle? No we are a pretty diverse group Are we too laid back? In a fast paced society like ours that's actually a plus point Are we too stupid? Definitely not But sometimes we're made to believe that Will the Malays ever move up the ranks of this supposedly egalitarian state? HAHA Maybe if we allow ourselves to believe that there is true meritocracy And does this book answers all the above uestions? Yes though the answers are at times implied rather than blatant left open for the readers to interpret in their own way Will I recommend this book to other Malays? I don't need to since they'll pick it up anyway However I strongly suspect they're not exactly the target audience


  4. Ororo Lazuli Ororo Lazuli says:

    Alfian Saat captures vividly the maladies affecting the Malay people in Singapore Bringing back the popular Malay myths such as Pontianak and Hantu Tetek he rewrites these popular tales into everyday vignettes Alfian humanizes these living legends I love them His re imagination of these tales struck a chord in me He weaves common perceptions of the Malays and portrays the reality of racial tension that have always been swept aside by the government He reveals the dark underbelly of this tiny island within the Malay Archipelago where its native people are no longer the majority and have to struggle to survive that tide of change He does it in a way that does not reflect utter bitterness or a sense of victimization that posits the Malay as the marginalized Instead he does it with so much integrity and wit that it showcases the complexity the culture within and the tendencies of the Malay people that has its own pros and cons and should be celebrated nonetheless I laughed I smirked and I felt Alfian Saat brings back the Singapore that I have lost That is bittersweet


  5. Zafirah Ab Rahim Zafirah Ab Rahim says:

    Every turn of the page feels like you're discovering a golden nugget The stories were written in a simple but poignant way as though they came from our own memories and onto the pages of the book Each story touches on a different aspect of what it is like to be Malay It doesn't discount the changes that Malays have undergone in terms of personal identity as well as a race in general Some stories will cause you to be self reflective Others will allow you discover aspects of the Malay culture that you may have taken for granted or may have never known at all This is a book I'll definitely recommend to anyone and everyone who wants to know what it's like to be Malay


  6. Ray Ong Ray Ong says:

    The archetypal Malay is deconstructed and demystified to the reader ostensibly an Other one of the remaining three official races that make up Singapore's CMIO racial model I found myself empathizing with the anxieties that plague the Malay minority here; preconceived stereotypes covert sometimes overt racism the paradoxical essence of Malayness to name but a few Through this I have gained a newfound respect and deeper understanding of the Malay community in Singapore


  7. Dave Dave says:

    Moving poignant and funny Alfian's study of Malay culture in Singapore is an amazing collection of vignettes Tackling a diverse set of issues such as the death penalty and political detention are tales of love and redemption Highly recommended


  8. Atikah Wahid Atikah Wahid says:

    This book is nothing short of brilliant And this is coming from a person who hates flash fiction mainly because I've never seen anyone write them well before Alfian Saat's Malay Sketches is a nod to Frank Swettenham's Malay Sketches but whereas the latter is nonsensical colonialist literature that relies on racist tropes Alfian's book sheds a light on Malay Singaporeans that is sincere earnest and poignant It is as though Alfian manages to tap into every Malay Singaporean's secret wound In just a handful of paragraphs Alfian is able to create glimpses of a world where issues like identity sense of belonging and racism are carefully explored Every story is a marvel to read The illustrations are gorgeous and fitting too Being a Malay I initially assumed I could relate to this book But being Malaysian I am only looking in from the outside It does make me rethink of my ideas of what Malayness means and how different it is when applied to something beyond my own experience A great read it's a pity that it's actually uite difficult to find in Malaysia Highly recommended


  9. Ana Ana says:

    To read Alfian's Malay Sketches or any of his writing for theatre print or online is to gaze unflinchingly at the blemished truths we hide from the stories we tell our friends the intimate moments with our families the awkward the uncomfortable the shameful and the ones that are full of love These are the stories we all know these are the days we have lived and narrated in our heads for only our hearts to hear uncensored and woven with a poetry only Alfian is capable of This is the best of Singaporean literature a read I would recommend and make compulsory in schools if I had my way


  10. Harajyuku Harajyuku says:

    Perhaps it is flash fiction's essential abruptness as well as the elegance of his writing that allows his stories to feel so authentic shards that suggest the shape of the vase pieces that hint at the perfection of the whole How ham fisted so much identity fiction seems in comparison And yet his endings are often just as obvious a little morality play ish Yet his focus on the day to day apolitical unspoken unrewarding ultimately performative aspects of identity is undeniably refreshing


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