Category Archives: Reviews

Merrily, literally, literary arts.



Last weekend, my days started super early (I usually sleep in). I hate weekends if I have no plans. But that week, I was excited. My first literary festival! Yeayyy! I aspire to be a writer since I was young, for now, an educator first. Anyways, I never had any chance to attend literary fest or conference. Maybe because I am in the wrong circle as I never really gotten good inside news about literary conference going on. I wished I had gone for all the panel discussions and meet the authors sessions but I had to choose. So I chose my favourite writers; Khadijah Hashim and Dewi Lestari.

1. PANEL DISCUSSION: Atas Nama Cinta (In the name of love)

This discussion, moderated by Emelda Juhari featured two top writers, Khadijah Hashim and Isa Kamari to discuss the images of women in literature. So we discussed the portrayals of women in their writings. From how authors like to portray women were bad; prostitutes, evil step mother, cheating girlfriend etc, to how women are shown to rise from their fall and how women face challenges. Well, women in their portrayals, play important roles in society. I felt the one hour discussion was short with KH sidetracked almost all the time. I mean, I love her loads, but seriously, I came to hear why writers write such way about women. But I did enjoy the discussion. I saw in their perspectives, both KH & IK, the different ways women are being portrayed in novels.

According to KH, “…untuk mengangkat sesuatu masyarakat itu, wanita perlu diberi pelajaran..” which means that women have to be educated as well in order for society to prosper. Images of women in prose differs in a female author’s perspective from male author’s. Well, in IK’s point of view, readers must think when they read. Therefore, criticisms come about as different points of views.

I can quite agree that I love both perspectives, from a female writer and its male counterpart. Nevertheless, I got to have my Badai Semalam old school novel autographed by KH. So, I was happy.

2. PANEL DISCUSSION: Sastera Popular lawan Sastera Mapan (Popular vs Literary)

Comparative literature. Just what I love. Moderated by my ex lecturer, Dr Nazry Bahrawi, featuring KH, Cg Mohamed Latiff Mohamed, Rohman Munasip & Dewi Lestari.  Image

So, I have a lot to say! I truly enjoyed this session the most, not because Dewi Lestari was amongst the panelist, but really, there was so much enrichment. Cg Latiff was definitely against all the popular novels. According to him, artistic value, aesthetics and philosophy of a literary novel will not be jeopardized by time. Compared to popular novels which was rated by how many hundreds or thousands being sold, literary novels are hard to sell. I saw his point, when he mentioned “gangsterism and sex” being these popular novels main focus. I couldn’t agree more. Almost all popular novels that I have read, back when I was in secondary school and recently some now, have the same kinds of conflicts; teenage love, unrequited love, triangle love, drugs and sex. But I beg to differ, only very few popular novels portrayed heavy plots and conflicts. At a point there was a nice bicker as to how love is portrayed in popular novels compared to literary ones. However, RM said to label a novel is popular or literary is very subjective and it is readers’ rights.Nope, I am not going to mention how KH bragged about her 45 year old novel and still going strong. 

All in all, to a certain extent when I felt this discussion, if prolonged, could have become a heated debate which I like. Having Dee in the panel gave us a different point of view from her perspective as she’s Indonesian and young. Seeing how their state of literary arts as compared to ours (Singapore & Malaysia), I think Dee also has a point when said it’s tough to make your novel break through as popular. A literary novel that withstand time, at some point, was a popular novel, yes? According to Dee, a novel has to get recognition from the media, be bestselling novel which means impact from readers, get recognition in festivals and the impact of the novel like how it can shape society. I don’t disagree. In fact, translated novels could fish the interest of foreign readers to inquire about the author.

3. Malay Literary Conferance: Sastera KOTA Sastera

This was the peak for me and probably for Malay literary arts in Singapore. Attended it alone and I truly felt tiny in a room filled with prolific writers and well-known authors and scholars. I kept to myself, intently listening to the papers presented, one by my ex-lecturer, Dr Nazry Bahrawi on images of ‘place’ in literature. He compared Suratman Markasan’s Penghulu and Andrea Hirata’s Laskar Pelangi (or The Rainbow Troops). It was enriching for me, maybe because I love comparative literature. And the fact that one statement, “Authors tend to feel god-like because they create the story.” (somewhere along the line) has actually sparked debate a short while. I was amused, but enlightened by this short debate nonetheless. A presentation from Noridah Kamari sparked my historical knowledge as she went through post-war periods which affected our literary arts. It was very enlightening for me.

Unfortunately for me, my attention span was short fused that day. The three hour conference turned out to be longer than expected. I wouldn’t mind a half day conference, even! If it had started out slightly earlier. Well, I vaguely remembered Putu Oka Sukanta’s words, “yang membingungkan itu lebih jernih...” (What confuses you is clearer.) I felt that the first part, when three papers presented was much more alive than the subsequent panel discussions.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first literary arts festival. And I hope it will not be my last. Who knows, one day, I might join those big shot writers and scholars…


Psiko: Pencuri Hati (Psiko: Thief of Hearts)



REVIEW: “Thief of Hearts” sounds very typically romantic title of a film genre. This not so heavily promoted thriller by Nam Ron is definitely a double thumbs up. I feel very compelled to review this film because it’s worth mentioning the hard work of the film maker and his team of amazing talents and crews. Besides, I’ve been watching too much cliche mainstream and comedies. PPH, for short, is like a breathe of fresh air. The plot and storyline seemed heavy but not too hard on audience. I’m thinking perhaps audience must have been to comfortable with mainstream movies to even bother to think through this one.

PPH tells a story of thriller novelist, O-Sidi (Bront Palarae) who is obsessed with the genre that his mystery novels spoke for themselves. He obsession caused him to take a very long time to produce his latest novel. What more, the latest novel features true story and real life cases. Just as he was facing writer’s block, the town was struck by the return of a serial killer who cut open victims’ chest to remove and cleanse the hearts. The open wounds were then nicely closed. Victims were left without any trail of evidence. Sidi wanted to feature that part of “true story and real life case” into his last chapter of the novel. However, the hallucination from his obsession kept haunting him.

The latest victim of the thief of hearts was a waitress whom Sidi came into contact not too long ago. Therefore he became paranoid by his own hallucinations. As suggested by his “friend”, Man, he went for a vacation at an island. There, he met a couple, Dr. Khai and his depressed wife, Wani, who has suffered from 3 miscarriages. Their marriage was at stake and Dr Khai was trying to fix it by going on a vacation with his wife. Wani love mystery novels and fate has it that Wani met her idol, Sidi on the island. Wani became instantly attracted to Sidi and this drove her husband mad. On the other hand, the innkeeper’s wife, Siti,showed interest in Dr.Khai.

The sudden death ala thief of hearts, of Siti, caused Sidi’s hallucination to worsen. Dr. Khai took the opportunity to put the blame of the thief of hearts on Sidi as he wanted hs wife away from the novelist. What happened following the death of Siti unreeled the thrilling drama, albeit quite a short storyline.

Compared to mainstream movies, this rare genre for a Malay film was well-developed. Despite the short storyline, like I said, probably Nam Ron did not want audience to think so much, I still do think about certain things throughout the movie. Well, I got two things right: 1)Man, was not just Sidi’s friend. I would say Man was Sidi’s conscience or sidekick; an alter ego? Reminded me of Sidney Sheldon’s novel. 2)The real thief was not who everyone think he is. Too many English thriller  movies taught me to figure it out within 40 mins into the movie. The killer’s intention of stealing victim’s hearts and having them cleansed, I feel like there’s an underlying message Nam Ron was trying to convey here. And the links of all sorts of disorders the characters had. Imagine, if you’re surrounded by people with all sorts of different disorders. Wait, we are already facing all sorts of disorders, don’t we?

My verdict: 8/10