Sunday, October 26, 2008
Preeta Samarasan - Evening is the Whole Day
Apparently point and shoot cameras need some amount of skill too. Here, there's an obvious lack of it.
This is not a food post but I thought it would be an interesting post anyway. It's not everyday that you get to meet a successful writer of international acclaim. This young lady is Preeta Samarasan. Her book Evening is the Whole Day is her first novel and a very successful one. I had attended the MPH Mid-Valley's monthly Lit Addict's Meet.
Unfortunately, I had gone there without reading her novel which I am sure must have disappointed her some. But I have a signed copy now and a good read tonight. My intention though of attending the discussion was not to talk about the book but rather to talk with her. I had a feeling that the gentleman next to me, whom I believe had arranged the meeting, was a little contemptuous that I had the cheek to attend the meet without reading the book beforehand. I sensed that he ticked me off a little, quite subtly. LOL
But really, I did read a synopsis of the book, we were not about to attend a lecture, nor about to sit for a quiz, so I did not think that we had to prepare ourselves like a bunch of school kids, apart from the fact that life gets in the way very often lately. I have read too some very good reviews of her book and that was enough to make me grab the opportunity to meet her apart from the fact that I was much more interested in the writer and the trials and tribulations that she may have experienced during the writing process.. (Okay, okay, having given all those excuses I have to admit that I did feel a little guilty anyway).
Preeta is a Malaysian now living in France with her equally young husband. She seemed a little nervous, but who wouldn't be, dealing with such success at such a young age. Someone asked her how she would like to be remembered and I recall Preeta being more than a little tickled, feeling perhaps the implication of 'agedness', if there is such a word, by such a question or perhaps just a little humbly embarrassed that she should be asked such. I can't recall her answer though. What I do remember was, her saying, "I'm not that old!" with laughter attached.
I did find out though that the novel had started out with just three characters (as in people not alphabets). That was in 1999 and at the time Preeta said that she had no idea where the story would be heading. She did not have an outline let alone any idea of how the story would end. Apparently she had started on the novel by writing in longhand and had never imagined that the completed novel would finally be written in reverse order. I haven't read the book but I will write a review once I have.
Her writing has been described as rich, quirky and colourful in prose of acrobatic grace. It is a novel of a "vibrant cast of characters" and "of a family struggling to deal with its past" during a time of the crazy uncertainty of a country coming to terms with itself. She writes of the strains and clashes in a country where the different races "vie for their positions in society". Fortunately she has not had any problem of censorship by the Malaysian censorship board because, as someone there was saying, "Malaysians don't read". Most favoured joke on Malaysians by Malaysians who do or think they do.
There were five of us sitting at the table. My son and I, Preeta, the gentleman next to me, and a young lady across from me until Preeta's husband came along and another lady most probably an MPH staff. It surprised me that it was such a small group. I was imagining that the whole book cafe would be used up for the event. I suppose Malaysians really don't read. But the rest of the large MPH store were quite thronged with people. So I'm quite confused to say the least.
Preeta says that she has a very good memory for the unnecessary things, like all the details of a conversation or the colour of someone's baggage perhaps but a bad memory for necessary ones like bills and appointments. Her husband confirmed her claim good-naturedly and lovingly. If this was a perfect world many of us, I am sure, would have had such a claim for ourselves confirmed good-naturedly too. Unfortunately, as mere mortals, we do not live in a perfect world as they do. Such is the world of writers. Successful ones I mean.
My son asked if she wrote for the money. No, that was never her motivation. But she's making some anyway. How convenient.
"Ooops now where did I put the car keys??!! Oh no!...the lights have gone off! Darn! I forgot to pay the electricity bill! Gosh.. I must get the pair of red heels that the young woman in the purple striped t-shirt with yellow hotpants was weraing at Friday's two months and three days ago!".
Hmm... come to think of it I must get that book completed too. Not that I need the money.
It was Ayamas black pepper chicken for dinner tonight. Yay no cooking! Thanks to Preeta.