Bunga Emas (first published in 1964) and Tracks of a Tramp (1961) ﬁrst appeared over half a century ago, in the period after Merdeka, the Malayan independence in 1957, when the nation, still a ﬂedgling, had so much hope and promise. Malaysia Day, 1963, was just around the corner. This, the second edition, revised and augmented, appeared in 2014.
Bunga Emas means tribute, as the editor explains in the glossary, an offering by Chinese and lndian writers and poets, who had made Malaysia their home, to ‘their evanescent mother cultures’.
This anthology of Malayan/Malaysia Literature in English, Chinese and Tamil from 1930 to 1963 (all translated into English), is something that’s never been done before, nor since. Apart from being an excellent historical record of pre- and post-independence Malaysian writing, this collection proves that good stories never grow old or tired.
Although this volume is only a small sample from the period, and it will be dangerous to draw too many conclusions from it, one can’t help but admire the sheer quality, the ideas, and the craftsmanship. They might have been written half a century ago, but they sound so current. More importantly, in here are voices of the other that we seldom hear (and often ignore).
A must read.
About the author: T Wignesan, a Stateless Person, born to immigrant Tamil parents in the dense jungle outpost station in Kuala Krai, Kelantan (one of four un-Federated Malay States where sultans reigned under Siamese suzerainty) where his father was posted by the British Railway Administration – apparently to shoot-on-sight vagrant tigers – was kicked out of the Federation of Malaya in 1962. After four years of schooling, he dropped out to fend for himself. He has worked and studied in London, Heidelberg, Berlin, Madrid and Paris. His ﬁrst book Tracks of a Tramp (a ﬁrst collection of poems) won no prize but it served as a lever for getting his s second book published in London, and since then, the leaning Pisa tower of the established book trade collapsed on his pen and blunted it for good. And as a result, he managed to edit and publish a dozen academic journals/books and has put out some ten non-ﬁctional and/or not-so ﬁctional works. In the meantime, self/vanity publishers stalk and ensnare his dozen or so left-over creative endeavours. Gross earnings from his writing career: minus zero-zero to the power of 32.