Met up with Tash Aw yesterday (Saturday) in MPH 1 Utama. Sad to say, the evening was kinda disappointing. We didn’t have much time with him, and it felt like a rush, having to ‘run through’ my ‘interview’ with him. It was supposed to start at 7pm, but as usual, Malaysians, being very punctual, arrived only at about 7.30 or so. (Yours truly arrived at 7 sharp) By the time we were done with dinner, it was already 8.15pm. We were then ushered to a cosy area, where Tash sat right in the centre, and the rest of us sat around him.
After the quick introduction, Tash spoke for awhile before proceeding to the autograph session. I bought his book while I was there, just to get his autograph and to have an opportunity to ‘chat’ with him. He was quite friendly, a little aloof at times, and looked pretty tired (he had been travelling for 4 weeks). Asked me a few basic questions, like if I’m an MRC member, what does MRC usually do during the book clubs and what kind of books I read. Told him I just completed ‘The Road’, which by the way, he loved deeply and thought it was McCarthy’s masterpiece. (I didn’t have my chance give him my standpoint, as I felt that he kept looking at his watch and couldn’t wait to end the ‘chat’). But I managed to ask him 4 questions (initially I had only two, but I got carried away haha):
Me: How do you choose a good opening to your story?
TA: Well, that’s a million dollar question. A tough one. To be honest, my initial opening was the one in chapter two. After much thought,it somehow didn’t feel right, so I ended up writing another opening which is what you see now in chapter 1. When that happened, it just felt right.
Me: What about your title?
This one, ‘Map of the Invisible World’ was actually my working title. I had a few others, but kept falling back to this one, because it felt right.
Me: Do you find writing a chore?
No. Definitely not. I write because it’s my job. (This part, I don’t quite understand…I mean, if one writes because it’s a job, isn’t it like a ‘chore’ already? Something you HAVE to do and not something you WANT to do? I had many other questions to ask him. But because he kept looking at his watch, I stopped myself :P)
Me: May I have your email address?
Oh, to be honest, I rarely check my emails because when I write I like doing it in seclusion; away from every distraction possible – no tv, no internet, no emails, no telephones. So you might have to wait for quite awhile for my reply. (to which I answered: No problem! I’ll wait patiently! And yes, he gave me his email add :P)
I felt utterly disappointed with the whole arrangement due to the ‘rush’ and the tardiness of some Malaysians. If everyone was punctual, we’d have more time with Tash. The next time we have such ‘evenings’…I beg you participants and members, PLEASE BE PUNCTUAL!