January 18, 2007

What Malaysians read

I found this article in the Straits Times Amir Muhammad on Thursday: How we love to 'cinta' in Bahasa.

It is so true here. And they are planning to implement a new education bluerprint which going to make young Malaysians more 'international, innovative, ..." This has been going on for ages and yet no change. I think it is getting worse where one ministry can handle everything and now they created more ministries. If you want to make a better Malaysians, start from the top - we are what you built. Except for those hardheaded who don't careless what will happen if we don't change.

SO there I was, mooching around a large MPH bookstore, when I came across the bestseller list of the Malay fiction section.

Since we are all aware that Malay fiction is going through a boom in sales, and since I am always eager to keep my finger, but nothing more, on the pulse of popular culture, I made sure to jot all the titles down.

I shall keep you in suspense no longer. Here are the 10 best-selling Malay novels for the past week:

1. Kasih Yang Tercalar
2. Mahligai Cinta
3. Izinkan Ku Bahagia
4. Berikan Cintamu
5. Saat Cinta Bersemi
6. Bahtera Kasih
7. Takdir Cinta
8. Sepi Tanpa Cinta
9. Jika Benar Cinta
10. Beginilah Cinta

Alert readers will have noticed something by now. Nine out of the 10 books have cinta or kasih in the title. Yes, love is all around.

The lone exception is the title in third place: Izinkan Ku Bahagia by Leeya Myra. How did Leeya get to become such an iconoclast that she dared to go against the cinta/kasih hegemony? Is her book really not about love at all?

I picked it up and read the blurb at the back. The first sentence is: Setiap manusia mencari cinta dalam hidup mereka. (Every person is looking for love in their life.) You said it, sister! Especially if that person is in the market for some Malay fiction.

I tried to browse through the books but every one of them was tightly encased in shrink-wrap plastic. Was this a prophylactic measure to protect us from all the love inside?

I hate purchasing books without even knowing what the font looks like, so they all remained unbought by me. (But I am sure they won't complain. They are gettin’ enough love.)

I walked a few feet — the things I do for this column! — to the other bestseller list. You know, the one for books in English. And the Top 10 there are:

1. False Impression
2. Slow Burn
3. The Five People You Meet In Heaven
4. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
5. The Inheritance of Loss
6. Every Breath You Take
7. The Alchemist
8. For One More Day
9. Seven Ancient Wonders
10. The Historian

Where is the love? Even the lone book whose title is taken from a pop song (title number 6) chose to reference The Police, a curmudgeonly band that never released any singles with "love" in the title. When you read in English, does this mean you’ve lost that loving feeling?

Now, there are two opposing ways we can interpret this data:

1. People who read Malay novels are so filled with love that it suffuses every facet of their being. It affects all their choices, including what to read.

Love is all they need. They feel it in their fingers, they feel it in their bones — just like chilblains. That is why they want to share the love, including with book manufacturers.

2. People who read Malay novels are so deprived of love that they need to seek it out in books, just to catch up on what they've been missing. They got no love, which is why they want love.

The recent report by Google Trends on Internet search words, of all things, would tend to bear out the latter theory.

Surfers in Kelantan are more likely to look for porn compared to other states. This might be because they are not allowed to see much flesh in real life.

Not, of course, that I am suggesting that love and porn are the same thing. One is slightly more expensive than the other.

Not to mention easier to unwrap.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

" Surfers in Kelantan are more likely to look for porn compared to other states. This might be because they are not allowed to see much flesh in real life. "

The Google trend result is unreliable. Even Google itself made such disclaimer. Btw, the keywords said to be used is obviously Malay keywords. Not strange for Malay speaking Kelantanese. What about search words in English or even Chinese ? Did they tell you the result ? You should try !

I am afraid that you just got conned by the Islamophobic, MCA controlled The Star newspaper ( other newspapers didnt make any fuss out of it, you see )

Jan 18, 2007, 7:14:00 PM  

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