My mother is my inspiration,” said Dato’ Dr M. Shanmughalingam when asked about his book entitled, “Marriage and Mutton Curry” during the fourth Sharpened Word talk held on Saturday, January 26 at 22 Hale Street, Ipoh.
The novel “Marriage and Mutton Curry” is listed as one of the bestselling novels. Dato’ Dr Shanmughalingam (Dato’ Shan), had written a few poems and short stories before publishing his first novel.
It consists of 15 short stories, nine light short stories and six dark long stories. All 15 stories relate to the Jaffna Tamil community in Malaysia. The novel covers three major milestones in Malaysian history, namely, the colonial period, World War 2 (Japanese Occupation) and the early years of independence. “I wanted a balance and different perspectives in my book,” he said.
Shan links marriage to mutton curry for a number of reasons. “Marriage doesn’t only involve men and women, it’s about the important relationships in life while mutton curry talks about the food and how it unites us,” he added.
When asked about his readers’ response, Shan quoted feedback from three major authors namely, Catalina Rembuyan, Gillian Dooley and Lawrence Pettener. In Catalina’s response, she stated that the community’s high regard for work and personal achievement was reflected in the book.
He mentioned Thomas Edison as his inspiration to finish the book, “I remember a quote by Thomas Edison. He said that genius is one per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration”.
According to Shan, the reason he included a few Tamil words in his short stories was because he believes in taking a bit of pride in his culture and language. He also said that in the future, he might write more stories that have a mixture of both Tamil and the Jaffna Tamil community. He hopes readers will read the stories, as each story tells a different story.
Priced at RM39.90 (paperback), it is now available at all major bookstores.