Malachi’s Complicated Lives offers a rich trove of uncommon Malaysian stories distinctive in their local, Tamil and sexual passions, stretching from childhood to intimations of mortality, each poem another glimpse of ‘Reality [that] is but a shade of illusion.’
– Shirley Geok-lin Lim, winner of Commonwealth Poetry Prize and American Book Awards; Research Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara.
Malachi Edwin writes sharp and vivid poems that capture with longing and heartbreak vistas long gone– the old Brickfields of memory, the ghosts of a love that dares not speak its name. Set against a rapidly changing Malaysia, these poems chart the country’s headlong rush to progress, as seen in kampongs vanishing and replaced with gleaming skyscrapers, as well as in relationships between people. Intimate, provocative, wild and beautiful, these poems are an important contribution to the house of Malaysian poetry in English.
– Danton Remoto, Research Fellow on Malaysian Literature, Asian Scholarship Foundation Professorial Lecture, Ateneo de Manila University.
Professor, poet, short story writer, Malachi Edwin is a familiar name in Malaysian literature, but his debut collection of poetry, Complicated Lives, is surely his most significant contribution to the tradition to date. What we encounter in the volume is poetry as memoir. Written in a simple, terse and delicate style, and confessional tone, the poems take us through a long, emotional journey into the speaker’s imagination and memory, presenting in every poem a slice of his private experience or a personal account and familial ties – sweet, bitter, warm, celebratory or agonising – and, true to the autobiographical style of poetry, ending with some reflections on death. These are moving, soul-searching style poetry that come as nuggets of wisdom, and I recommend the volume to anyone interested in Malaysian literature, Malaysian history and multiculturalism, or poetry generally.
– Mohammad A. Quayum, Professor of English, International Islamic University Malaysia &Adjunct Professor of English and Creative Writing, Flinders University, Australia.