Manek Mischiefs, the third in a trilogy of collection of short stories centering on the multi-hued world of the Peranakans by Dr Lee Su Kim, made Ipoh its fifth stop after earlier launches in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Malacca. The word “manek” is used to describe the minuscule glass beads from Bohemia and Czechoslovakia, brought over to this region by traders.
The book launch was organised by the Perak Academy on Saturday, December 9 at 22 Hale Street Heritage Gallery. Dr Lee was the first female speaker of the Perak Academy back in August 2002.
Present were Dato’ Lee Hau Hian, guest of honour and Chan Kok Keong, deputy chairman of the Perak Academy. “You read and listen to short stories in English to improve your vocabulary. We are indeed indebted to Su Kim who is going to enlighten us on the attributes of Malaysian English and why our English is such. No one has dissected, observed and explored Malaysian English, the words and vocabulary as deeply and intelligently as Su Kim,” Chan said.
Clad in a mint lace-trimmed floral kebaya (blouse) and manek shoes, Dr Lee explained, “It was quite a challenge when I started writing the stories because there was no precedent. Firstly there’s no such culture. There were a few novels that were written but no short stories so I tried to do that. How do you convey to your reader all the wonderful, flamboyant, multicultural aspects of the culture?”
“I tried to be very true, for instance by putting in Hokkien words when I’m writing a Penang family. I put in the words and its meaning as well by giving enough cues instead of giving glossary which spoils it all,” she added.
Attendees were in for a treat as she gave a performance reading of the chapter entitled, “The Merry Wives & Concubines of Patriarch Baba Gan” from her latest book.
A sixth generation Nyonya with roots in both Penang and Malacca Peranakan communities, Dr Lee is the founder and first woman president of the Peranakan Baba Nyonya Association of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. Currently, she is a full-time writer, educationist and language consultant.
Before the debut of her fiction, she penned the bestselling “Malaysian Flavours: Insights into Things Malaysian” which is now coming back into print. Printed in 1996, more than 10,000 copies have been sold.
Manek Mischiefs: Of Patriarchs, Playboys and Paramours (paperback) is available in MPH and Popular bookstores at RM49.90. For more updates, email Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her Facebook page: LeeSuKimAuthor.