This compilation of short stories about various things Malaysia is both succulent and succinct. One will never get bored with a book like Rojak. The stories, all 30 of them, are packed into a sweet looking pink cover.
Why pink? Perhaps only Amir can tell. Hats off to the artist Chin Yew who did the illustrations for the book. The images are very apt and imbue life into the stories.
There’re all kinds of sensations when you bite into the stories: sweet, sour, bitter, hot and spicy, salty, peppery and pungent. After each story, you want to lick your lips and say ‘ho chiak’ or ‘sedap’. Whichever lah.
So where do you begin to read? With Amir’s book, you can start anywhere, not necessarily from page 1.
I read the stories over and over again, and each time, I laughed out loud. I will not talk about the stories in detail or even give you a hint, you’ll have to read them for yourself to know how they taste like.
All I can say is there are keywords that’s enough to entice you: screw, horror, sheila majid, panda, artist, 1998, apple, one-night stand, cempedak,woman, money, feng-shui…enough lah, go get a book!
I know what Amir is trying to do with this delicious book, though: He’s saying, it’s quite obvious, that it’s time Malaysians stop taking life and politics so seriously-lah.
The seriousness is killing us. The verbosity, the obsession with perfection, the lengthy text, can humiliate us.
But those days are over.
I’d rather a story brings you straight to the point, coz you know why? We don’t have the time, to wade through the junkful of words, the loadfool of crap, the preachy text, the meaningless melodramas.
Like good sex, we want it raw!
In ROJAK, one sees the big picture and with that, ends up laughing at oneself, at one’s ethnic group, one’s sexual preference, one’s religion, one’s political allegience. And in laughing, we tolerate, we accept and most of all we understand the sub-cultures around us.
Laugh at the politicians for giving us a joke (most days, we have more than one joke) a day. You know what they say about laughter being the best medicine. With a book like rojak (hope there’ll be more from Amir), you people who are hook on medicines and alternative diets, throw your crutches away!
But. There is always a but, even for Amir.
While trying (quite breezily at that) to sound funny, he slipped – with or without our notice – several ‘subversive’ messages in his read bites. Whether it is done intentionally or otherwise, Amir does it quite expertly, as only a rojak man could. And that I must say, is the best part of the book ROJAK.
Read reviews in the NST here, and theSUN here. And I must thank Lori Lee yet again for sending me two books, courtesy of ZI Publications. The other is TAPAI by my friend Hishamuddin Rais. But that’s another story, ya…