3 Book Events In The Klang Valley To Satisfy Your Literary Taste Buds
Readings@Seksan, Held One Saturday Every Month, Bangsar
In 2005, Malaysian novelist, poet and educator Bernice Chauly started a literary event called Readings to promote literature to the public.
However, in 2007, Bernice had to take care of her cancer-stricken mother, so she then passed the baton to British expatriate and creative writing teacher Sharon Bakar who has been the event’s curator ever since.
At Readings, conducted one Saturday every month, local and international writers come together to read aloud their works to the audience.
The event is located in a homely bungalow in Bangsar called Seksan Gallery (designed by the famous landscape architect Ng Sek San).
The atmosphere is friendly comfortable and welcoming to accomplished writers and newbies alike. Both published works and works-in-progress are read aloud.
People also come here to mingle. Delicious cakes and tasty finger food are passed around in lovely Tupperware.
“Readings aim to encourage writers by giving them a platform for them to read their work and socialise,” Sharon Bakar said.
“This is particularly important I think, because writing is a very solitary occupation and it’s helpful for them to have the chance to test works in progress on a live audience.”
“The events help to generate a wider interest in local writing and allow newly published authors to sell copies of their books, and for everyone to network. Some creative partnerships have indeed been forged at Readings,” she said further.
Sharon added, “I also hope to give the audience an afternoon of enjoyment and not to mention free entertainment. I think there is a real sense of community created by these gatherings, and I love the way that everyone is so supportive of the work of others. One of the “rules” of the gathering is that no one, no matter how famous or critically acclaimed is allowed to be the “star” – everyone gets the same billing and the same amount of time.”
One person who has read aloud her works at Readings is accomplished Malaysian columnist Dina Zaman.
She read aloud ‘Rainstorm’, which was originally published in her book ‘King of the Sea’ (Silverfish Books, 2012), during the 15th anniversary of Readings in the year 2020.
Dina said: “Readings have been part of my career. It’s a good place for writers to listen, participate and make friends. I’ve seen some of the audience become true writers like Saras Manickam and that’s brilliant. This crowd encourages you, and for that, I am thankful to be part of it.”
Readings have seen a host of famous overseas writers reading their works, among them the best-selling author of the book ‘Apple Tree Yard’ Louise Doughty and the poet Roger Robinson (winner of the TS Eliot Prize), both of whom appeared at International Readings which was held at Central Market in conjunction with The British Council in 2007.
Readings have also hosted author Kunal Basu, whose novella ‘The Japanese Wife’ was turned into a novel.
Several overseas Malaysian writers have also read their works at Readings, including Tan Twan Eng, Tash Aw, Preeta Samarasan, Shamini Flint and Zen Cho.
To know more, do check out their Facebook page.
Meet-The-Author Sessions At Lit Books, Tropicana Avenue, Petaling Jaya
Literary fanboys and fangirls, rejoice! The independent bookstore Lit Books, located in Petaling Jaya, holds meet-the-author sessions at least once a month where you can get acquainted with both local and international authors.
Lit Books owner Fong Min Hun told Lisaffair: “The aim of our author events is to create an avenue for readers and authors to better connect with one another. While online meet-and-greets are great, we believe that there is something special in holding in-person events. There is a greater immediacy and intimacy with being in the same room as an author, to hear them read and to be given an opportunity to ask them burning questions about a particular idea or plot point. All our author events are moderated with the aim of spurring discussion and interaction, and to hopefully help our authors and readers connect with each other on a more personal level. “
I personally have had the privilege of attending a session where Malaysian writer Saras Manickam spoke at length about her newly-released book ‘My Mother Pattu’ (published by Penguin SEA).
Over the years, Lit Books has hosted numerous authors.
“Some familiar home-town heroes include Hanna Alkaf, Tash Aw, Zen Cho, Preeta Samarasan and Tan Twan Eng,” Fong said.
“We have also hosted international authors such as Audrey Magee and Paul McVeigh. While it is a privilege for us to have these recognisable names, we believe it is as important, if not more so, that we feature authors whose work we think is deserving of a wider recognition, even if the authors themselves might be less well known.”
He added: “We are quite selective about who we feature as we only do events with authors whose books we stock and that we think will have something to offer our customers.”
What can attendees look forward to at these events?
“All our events are moderated, either by ourselves or some of our partners such as the Two Book Nerds podcast,” Fong said. “Our events typically begin with a conversation between the author and the moderator, followed by an open Q&A with the audience. After that, there is a book signing and free time for people to mingle and chat with each other and the author. We ticket our events, usually at RM10, but attendees will receive a voucher for RM10 on the day itself. The aim of the tickets is not revenue generation but to incentivise people who RSVP to attend the event.”
To know more, please visit their Facebook page.
The Difficult Women Book Club Kuala Lumpur
The Difficult Women Book Club is an international book club founded in Barcelona, Spain with many chapters in cities all over the world. Recently, website developer and digital marketer Yasmin Zulhaime started the Kuala Lumpur chapter.
The book club is a feminist book club where readers, regardless of their gender and identity, gather to discuss literary works by female authors.
“The book club is unique and special because we have people from all over the world, reading the same book and having different perspectives of the book,” Yasmin told Lisaffair.
“With that being said, a feminist book club is special because, especially here in Kuala Lumpur, we want to be able to talk about issues surrounding women,” she said further. “And those issues can look like many things from politics to social to economy, all of them touch our lives and we should talk about it so that we know what individual choices we have to make in order to make this world a better place for everyone.”
The book club recently held its first meeting.
“The first meeting went well!” said Yasmin. “We had to do two sessions for the August and September books. They were very well received. We love to see the diversity of people we pull in too, from various backgrounds. We hope to see people from more identities so that the discussions are richer. The first meeting really felt like almost everyone was listening to each other empathetically.”
“Everyone can read the books we are reading concurrently, especially since we let everyone know what the book of the month is,” Yasmin added.
For October, attendees will be reading ‘The Woman Destroyed’ by the late French feminist thinker Simone de Beauvoir.
To join a session, DM their Instagram page privately.