In a nutshell
Rojak is a collection of very short fictional stories (63 altogether, plus the extended versions), all of which tell of Malaysia and its culture. The author quoted our beloved late Yasmin Ahmad, saying “What is a nation without the stories it tells itself?” I couldn’t agree more! (We miss you, Yasmin…)
What I liked…
Definitely the cover design and colour, the illustrations (I thought Liza and Chin Yew did a great job!) that make the stories come alive, and definitely, the humour! There were many that I liked. My top favourites are ‘Lipstick Babi’ (first read it in City of Shared Stories Kuala Lumpur), ‘Correspondence’ (Both versions talk about the common junk mails we receive that offer a large some of money by some unknown sender. I don’t remember laughing so hard reading a story!), ‘Dorm Horror Story’ (reminded me of the other version I was told before! LOL) and ‘Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat’ (They sure can rap! ROFL!). Then there are heart-warming such as ‘The Beef’ and ‘Mosque Slippers’. I love the twists and irony (I hope I used the correct term here) in most of these stories especially ‘DVD’ (yes, about pirated DVDs) and ‘Honesty’! I also liked what the author did with ‘The IC Code’, ‘Banana’ and ‘Apple’.
The thing I admire about the author his ability to craft these stories in such a way that they allow us readers to kind of ponder on some of the current issues that are happening/have happened here in Malaysia (such as religion, race, and politics), while keeping it light and entertaining. Oh yeah, there’s quite a fair bit on sex too haha
Thank you, Amir Muhammad for writing these stories (love those typical Malaysian slang you added in there) and thank you ZI Publications for publishing Rojak!
It’d be better if…
there was a glossary provided (would be useful for the non-Malaysian readers). It’d be awesome if the book is also available (or will be available) in paperback, because it’s such a great book to be carried around (hardcover makes it heavy lah… 😦 ) and read whenever we need to kill time. (The cover would definitely grab attention! :))
My verdict? 4/5