Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Sprinkled with a Liberal Dose of such Malaysian Delicacies...

A review in Volume 12 Spring 2012 - University of Texas at Austin Newsletter:

Goreng Pisang. Nasi lemak. Sambal sotong.
Rumaizah Abu Bakar’s debut collection of short stories is sprinkled with a liberal dose of such Malaysian delicacies, invoking both the country’s passion for food and steering the reader’s attention to the ordinary elements that are nevertheless central to so many human interactions. The Female Cell offers a glimpse into the everyday life of Malaysia— from simple moments caught in transit on the local rail system to the complexities of multiethnic professional environments. The collection also includes a series of travel stories based on the author’s trips to a variety of countries including Singapore, the Philippines, Turkey, and Egypt. These stories, like those set in Malaysia, also revolve around carefully detailed moments of intimate human relations. Taken as a whole, The Female Cell is the work of an emerging Malaysian author who conveys a sense of the Malaysian experience through her focus on the intricacies of personal interaction and the details of everyday life...

Fore more:

Monday, 13 August 2012

Meet the Author Session in Kuala Lumpur

Meet the author session at Popular BookFest@Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur

The Female Cell by Rumaizah Abu Bakar
Day/date: Thursday,23 August 2012
Time: 6.00 to 6.45pm
Venue: Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, KLCC

BOTH local and international literary communities are set to converge at what is deemed one of the largest book exhibitions in the region come Aug 18.

The much anticipated Popular BookFest@Malaysia returns this year and will feature a myriad of fun-filled activities and great bargains that will have book lovers brimming with excitement.

With over 600 booths spread across a total space of more than 11,000 sqm (125,000 sqfeet) at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, the fair will display over a million English, Malay and Chinese titles from leading local publishers as well as those from Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Britain, Canada and the United States. But books and publishers are not the only ones making their mark, as a plethora of authors have been roped in to participate in the nine-day mega exhibition.

Over the years, BookFest has provided a platform for both local and international authors to share their literary work. A number of daily meet-the-author sessions have been scheduled throughout the exhibition this year.

For details, go to

See you there! :)

Friday, 15 June 2012

Vote for Popular-The Star Readers’ Choice Awards 2012 by 1 July!

AUTHOR Jonathan Safran Foer once said: “(The past) is always along the side of us ... on the inside, looking out.” It is perhaps for this reason that we are so drawn to stories from our past; whether personal anecdotes or historical events, these happenings are undeniably a part of who we are today.

This year’s nominees in the fiction category of the Popular-The Star Readers’ Choice Awards are no exception.

Being the 10 bestselling books in Popular and Harris bookstores last year, these nominees are truly a reflection of what Malaysians are reading. From the award’s inception in 2008, Popular and Star Publications (M) Bhd have aimed to encourage local authors and increase their visibility. As the only local literary award that rewards Malaysian authors, it also aspires to bring the local literary scene to a higher level.

Furthermore, the award hopes to encourage Malaysians to read more by incorporating the “Read to Vote, Vote to Win” component, where readers can determine the winners of the award through voting; simply submit your top three favourite titles from the list of nominees for both the fiction and non-fiction categories.

By voting, you also stand the chance of being one of the 100 readers who will receive a RM50 Popular gift voucher, a one-year-free-membership Popular card, and a book hamper worth RM100. Meanwhile, the top three authors in each category will be rewarded with cash, trophies and certificates of recognition.

To vote, go to or You can also fill in the form in Star2 and either post it in or drop it off at any Popular or Harris store. Forms are also available at all Popular and Harris bookstores around the country. You can send as many forms as you wish.

To vote via SMS; read the instructions at the top of the lists in the form carefully. (Remember the slogan, or you will be disqualified!)

The deadline for all submissions is July 1, 2012.

For those who haven’t read all the nominated books, here’s an introduction to the titles in the fiction category. (Look out for our introduction of the non-fiction nominees next week.) And if we’ve convinced you to pick up a few of them, you can get each of the 20 titles at a 20% discount at Popular and Harris bookstores nationwide from now until Sept 23, 2012.

The Female Cell
The first section of this collection of short stories comprises 12 works of fiction, while the second illustrates the author’s travels in countries like Egypt, Thailand, Turkey and the Philippines. Displaying a delightful sense of observation, humour and irony, the author’s writings on everyday details, like a lone bead on a necklace, an eccentric physics professor on a train, or the humidity of Malaysia, paint elegant portraits of human interactions.

(excerpt from The Star)

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

"Writing vignettes can be a daunting task, as one has to be precise, accurate and as brief as possible..."

Reading Rumaizah Abu Bakar’s splendid collection of short vignettes in The Female Cell proves how wrong Wong Phui Nam was when he sounded the death knell for Malaysian writings in English at a press conference for the Singapore Writers Festival in 2009. Contrary to his grim predictions, a new generation of writers have emerged over time and these include, among others, Rumaizah herself, Chuah Kok Yee, Shi-Li Kow, to name but a few. Although official support is not readily given, the Malaysian literary scene is alive and thriving judging from events held such as regular monthly readings, blogging, book fests, book launches, story competitions etc. It is heartening to note that it is the hosting of such events, apart from the fact that new publishers have emerged, that have created opportunities for budding writers to experiment with refreshing perspectives, topics and themes.

Before discussing the collection, perhaps it is best to begin the review with a note on its format. The collection consists of twenty short stories which are told in two parts. The first part titled "Loves, Lies and Lives" contains twelve stories while the second part with the title of "Travel Tales" includes the remaining eight. The stories in the first part explore the lives of ordinary people in an urban setting, their relationships with one another, their feelings and emotions as well as their conflicts and struggles. In the second part, the stories centre on the travels and adventures of the author in exotic places such as Egypt, Thailand, Turkey, Makkah (Mecca), the Philippines and Malaysia’s historical city, Melaka (Malacca), labelled by the author as the "City of Warriors." The stories are simple and some are quite short (about two pages in length only). As such, they would appeal to those in need of a quick read while waiting for a friend in a cafe or the LRT, the latter, incidentally, happens to be a popular setting for a couple of stories. Elements of humour and irony are injected to enhance the appeal and dramatic effect of these short vignettes.

In a number of stories, the author sketches an urban life in modern day Malaysia that is fast-paced and energetic. People are always in a hurry and they barely notice anyone or anything in their rush....

For the full review in Asiatic Journal, pls click here.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

"New Year", a piece to usher 2012

Wishing you a Happy New Year. May 2012 bring you joys and blessings. I would like to take this opportunity to share my new short fiction which appeared in the 55th issue of the Selangor Times. Happy reading!

"MY guard duty ends at 5.30am on Jan 1. I get out of my army uniform and into my jeans and t-shirt as fast as I can. I grab my wallet and mobile phone and rush out. My stomach growls as I think about my mother’s lontong waiting for me at home. As I pass by the row of flats, I spot empty cans and confetti on the street, remains from the night’s celebration. These are the last things I want to see. Then, I feel someone grabbing my left arm..."

To read more: Full story in the Selangor Times

Thursday, 15 December 2011

"I look forward to reading your next book."

"..I have read The Female Cell and really enjoyed it. I could relate to most of the stories. When I lived in Singapore, I was a docent at Asian Civilisations Museum. My favourite gallery was the West Asia Gallery and I have a vivid image of Mecca from my studies to guide the gallery. Unfortunately as a non muslim, I will never be able to see it for myself. Do people really disappear when taking part in the Haj?

I look forward to reading your next book."

~ Helen, reader ~

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Christmas in July

A Chef table scene from 'Christmas in July', the first story in The Female Cell. Just look at the Indian turkey:)

Thursday, 3 November 2011

A Travel Tale from the Holy City of Makkah

For your reading pleasure: One of my travel stories from The Female Cell to usher the 2011 Hajj season . 'Shoe Bag' was inspired from my Hajj pilgrimage in Nov'06 to Jan'07.

"Kak Teh and I take off our rubber slippers and put them in two lime green shoe bags with our name tags and tighten the strings to secure it. Our travel agent has provided them to us when we checked into the hotel and advised us to take them to the mosque. It is common for pilgrims to lose footwear left outside.

At the entrance, a woman security guard in black looks into our bags. She mumbles something in Arabic as she returns them and gestures for us to proceed. I take my sister's hand as we enter we admire the floral motifs carved on the entrance arch, the walls are of white marble that have light grey strokes in them, the high ceiling is carved in arabesque and the white marble floor we walk on while pilgrims shuffle around us hurriedly.

We ignore the shoe racks around the pillars as we have our footwear in our bags. Yesterday, we had trouble finding our shoes at the racks. We have, also, carefully hidden our flat purses in the deep pockets of our robes as a precaution. We go up a flight of steps to another large area and down again to another. The joints in my knees wobble from fatigue and I see that Kak Teh is a little out of breath...."

Full story: Shoe Bag

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Female Cell - October Readings@Seksan

I shall be reading one of my travel stories from The Female Cell this weekend.
Date: Saturday 29 October, 2011
Time: 3.30pm

Place: Seksan Gallery, 67, Jalan Tempinis Satu, Lucky Garden, Bangsar

Lineup :
Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad
Zan Azlee
Rumaizah Abu bakar
Adib Zaini
Julian CH Lee

And with music from Reza Salleh

Admission free and everyone very welcome. Please pass on the invitation to anyone else you think might be interested.  

(For enquiries contact Sharon 017-2644956,

Monday, 23 May 2011

The Female Cell soft launch news on NTV7

An invitation to The Female Cell launch on 18 June 2011

Launch of The Female Cell - 20 stories (all previously unpublished) by Rumaizah Abu Bakar in her first book that display an acute sense of observation, with humour and irony, but without prejudice or pandering. With minimalist sketches, she has the uncanny knack for suggesting danger in even the most mundane. If you have read her initial works in the News From Home anthology, see how she has matured.

The collection is published by Silverfish Books under the Malaysian Literature in English series. The book features 20 stories in two parts:
1) Part 1 – Loves, Lies and Lives – 12 stories
2) Part 2 – Travel Tales – 8 stories

What others say:
Whether she is describing the kaleidoscopic panorama of Kuala Lumpur, or the prickly solitude of a traveller in Turkey, Rumaizah demonstrates a generous capacity for observation. A quietly assured debut collection.
-- Alfian Sa'at, writer, poet and playwright --

Rumaizah's stories are unpretentious and delightful. These short vignettes of human emotions and interactions are perfect for that rainy afternoon, accompanied by tea and biscuits. These stories have light in them.
-- Dina Zaman, author of I am Muslim --

The book will be launched during the Kuala Lumpur Alternative Bookfest 2011. Details are as follows:
Day/date    : Saturday, 18 June 2011
Time           : 3.45 to 4.30pm
Venue         : Annexe Gallery, 2nd Flr, Annexe Building, Central Market, Jalan Hang Kasturi, Kuala Lumpur
Tel no         : 603-22844837

Admission is free for all.