Thursday, April 29, 2010

Review Thursday: Body 2 Body: A Malaysian Queer Anthology

Body 2 Body: A Malaysian Queer Anthology
Jerome Kugan (Author, Editor), Pang Khee Teik (Author, Editor)
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Matahari Books 2009
ISBN-10: 9834359691
ISBN-13: 978-9834359690
Price: RM34 (Malaysia)/ S$22 (Singapore)/ $20 (Amazon)

Usually I avoid story collections that promote a particular cause.  Generally speaking, I find activist writing dull, dreary and dogmatic.  I bought this book solely because I am appalled at the demonisation of gay people in Malaysia. 

Having made my protest buy, I chucked it in the back of the car, and tried to think of a friend who might enjoy reading it. 

Fate intervened (in rather a nasty way!) when Target, my little cat, dislocated his paw.  We rushed across to the other side of Peninsular Malaysia to see a specialist, and while Target was being treated, I sat and chewed my nails in a nearby coffee shop - and found that Body 2 Body was the only book in the car.

Let me say this: if you want to buy someone a present, this is a really good choice.  The writing is excellent.  There isn't a whiny, officious, or instructive story in it.  Body 2 Body is unusual in that all the stories are first class.  Having read it 5 months ago, I still remember each one in detail - and that's good writing.

My favourites are The Wives Story by Tan May Lee that peeks inside a polygamous Muslim marriage (not, it's NOT about abuse and male domination!) and Monsoon Massage by Paul GnanaSelvam (a story about absolutely nothing in the style of Somerset Maugham; in other words superb, classic, insightful) and What Do Gay People Eat? by Brian Gomez (because it made me laugh but it is also oh-so-true!).

Really, buy this book.  You're going to love it. It's available in various Malaysian bookshops like Kinokunya, Times and Silverfish and is also on   To read the first chapter free, visit What Do Gay People Eat? by Brian Gomez

I've been reading so many great books recently, that I've decided to start reviewing them on Thursdays. Reviews are personal; fell free to jump in with comments that disagree. If you want your book reviewed, email me at katztales AT, OK?


Neri said...

heee. yes i enjoyed that very much. (the free 1st chapter)

Cat-from-Sydney said...

I'd buy the book if one of the stories would be: Why Gay People Love Cats. har har har *evil thoughts*

ps. in bloghopping mood today...

Pam said...

I will definitely read the free first chapter. It sounds interesting.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Wow, sounds like an awesome collection! I beg to differ with you in activist writings, Ellen. It really depends on the cause championed. Religion-related fiction and narrative prose are generally self-conscious, pompous and so boring it makes you want to slit your wrists rather than continue reading. LGBT writing, on the other hand, is almost always scintillating, witty and insightful. I have quite a sizeable collection of LGBT 'issues' books, including poetry, plays, and classics like "Eight Bullets". This book sounds right up my alley. Will check it out soon! Hope they have it in Borders -- I can use my vouchers then.

~CovertOperations78~ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Singh is King said...

We know that Polygyny(a man having multiple wives at a time) is permitted in Islam, Islam justifies that it is the best possible solution for a couple when the wife is infertile and the husband seeks an heir of his own, and seperation is not an option.. Then why not recognize polyandry (woman having multiple husbands) if man is not capable?

Anya said...

Klinkt interesant Ellen,
Je bent echt een schrijvertje hihi

knuffels voor allemaal
Kareltje & Anya