The Malaysian Way Of Life
Edited by Julian C H Lee
ISBN 978 983 384 5224
Published by Marshall Cavendish Malaysia October 2009
Paperback 192 pages
Price RM34.90/S$17.45 without GST
This collection of articles by various authors discusses all things Malaysian: the obsession with food, changes in Mosque design, the ruthless destruction of Hindu temples, censorship, homophobia, political change, and other popular topics.
This is a snapshot of what people in Malaysia are talking about today. In 50 years, this will be a valuable resource for historians who want to get a feel for the first decade of the century. In the meantime, it's interesting to read this collection of opinion pieces - and it's a good book to give to someone who has just started living here.
The three pieces I liked best were Where is the Audience? An "Anti-Audience" Study of Malay Language Cinema, $#@% mak! The Oil In The Multicultural Machine, and United States and Malaysian Students: Encounters In Modernity.
The first by Gordon Gray gives a lovely sense of time and place, as well as insight into the gap between film makers and audiences. The second by Yeoh Seng Guan answered all my questions about "dirty words" I hear in Malaysia - and answered them with style! The third by Patricia Sloane-White that puts groups of students together and examines cultural differences was simply the best study of its kind I've come across in ages.
I also liked Jerome Kugan's comment Poking Fun at Malaysians. I think it expresses something the weightier articles miss: that sense of irony and fun displayed by so many Malaysians.