On Trengganuspeak and the Spirit of Trengganu

Saturday, March 26, 2011


A Map of Trengganu will make its debut at the Kuala Lumpur Bookfair 20th to 23rd April though I am not sure if I shall be making an author appearance there as it is almost impossible to get a response from the organisers. It will be nice to hear from them yea or nay but that's not how things work in Malaysia.

However, I shall be signing copies of AMoT at MPH Mid Valley on Saturday afternoon 30th April, insha Allah. It will be good to see you there.

Read the first 27 pages HERE. Go to Monsoon's Catalogue.

Monsoon's cover blurb for AMoT:

Following the runaway success of Growing Up in Trengganu, Awang Goneng now takes his journey further to map out the town where he was born. This book looks at the terrain of Trengganu, the landmarks that are still standing and those that have fallen to rubble at the hands of developers, the winds that bring chill and change to the inhabitants of his coastal town, and people – the important and the ordinary – who walked the streets and breathed the air that is laced with more than a whiff of dried shrimps, the sweat of toil, the aroma of röjök in Pök Déh’s plate, and salt coming in with the spray from the South China Sea.

A Map of Trengganu gives a vibrant and extraordinary topography of the land and its people for the uninitiated and for those who are familiar with the terrain and territory. Time does not stand still in Kuala Trengganu as Awang Goneng notes, but it moves at a different pace in every fascia, and then it is gone forever. So who moved the clock tower from the roundabout in the town centre? You’ll soon be pondering this important question and many more things that you never knew about Trengganu

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Friday, March 11, 2011

A Map of Trengganu

Click on image to enlarge

This is your sneak preview of Monsoon's poster announcing a new arrival to its stable, A Map of Trengganu. This is the book that you have helped to make, and I thank you all, from the cat meowing in Australia to all you good people who have been coming here to read, skim through or to add your comments. And of course to that little dog in Brazil too, that has benefitted from GUiT's solution for keeping quadrupeds from going astray. See here and here.

AMoT will make its debut at the KL Bookfair 23rd April - 1st May.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Map is Not the Territory

At long last, with a sigh of relief I can say that I have just put the finishing touches to my next book, A Map of Trengganu (AMoT), and it is now at the printers to be printed, covered, bound and dressed up for somewhere to go: the Kuala Lumpur Bookfair 23rd April - 1st May.

Already I'm all nervous and draped in cold sweat thinking how it will fare when exposed to the sunlight of this mad, wide world. But it will be another one for my slim shelf of modest scribblings anyway, and good luck to the publisher and distributor with the two-thousand or so copies lying idle in their warehouse. I have already said to myself and those who have asked that AMoT shall be my last book about Trengganu.

AMoT will be different from GUiT in some small ways. It will have more original writing than GUiT which came to this world as a garden of Kecek-Kecek gleaned from the years. I have written many long pieces and re-written many of those that were picked from here to put between AMoT's covers. And our wonderful designer Sinead in Ireland has done a beautiful cover for AMoT that I am sure will delight all you bookshop browsers who delight in looking at a book in a bookshop and replacing it onto the shelf once you've read page 99 while the impoverished author struggles to keep warm at home on a diet of stale bread and cold water. (Who was it who recommended testing a book this way anyway?)

I hope some of you will buy the book even if it isn't big enough to stop your door. I hope too that all those people who did me the honour with GUiT will do the same come April. Meantime, here's a snippet from a page of A Map of Trengganu, not page 99, but another:

Unhinged By Thought
A message in the head transferred to paper; he’d insert it into the crack in the lamp post, sometimes he’d pin it to the lumber. Thoughts from his troubled past, written in Jawi, always in Jawi, the Arabic script adapted for Malay sounds, pencilled in the adept hand of an experienced scribe onto scraps of white school exercise-book paper and left there to flap in the gust of passing vehicles.

No one took any notice of Haji Chik’s notes, the rants of this dishevelled man, hair uncombed, greying at the temples and wisps of curls, his batik sarung pulled knee-high, reeking with the dirt and dust of Tanjong. Distant thoughts, the angst of now, put into the squiggles of a lead pencil in disgruntled bits fallen on rocks of despair. In daytime he produced his handiwork, impervious to the people who’d pay him no mind anyhow, he’d walk into Pök Löh’s café to give a vigorous stir in his teacup as he soliloquised.

There were signs in Kuala Trengganu and writings on the wall, some painted large in the hands of Che Omar, a gangly shadow of what he once had been, with never a shirt on his back, his sinewy legs protruding from dark khaki shorts, never weary from daily travel, always a bucket in hand and a paint brush. He walked with purpose, never fast, his bucket of whitewash connected to his head, expressing thoughts that he’d paintbrush onto the walls of Trengganu. Lofty Omarian thoughts gleaming on Trengganu walls in whitewash, some outside the old building that later became a Catholic church where he and his companion lived.

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