THE George Town Literary Festival (GTLF) has always been a discovery platform which connects readers to writers from various backgrounds. Having consistently afforded FIXI a slot in its programme since 2012, GTLF saw the publishing house launch two books at Wisma Yeap Chor Ee, George Town last Sunday.
For its fifth year at the festival FIXI brought over new releases from Regina Ibrahim and Julya Oui — both male to female transgender authors and trans right advocates. Regina pushed her fifth overall publication, Delima, while Julya Oui showcased her third collection of short stories for FIXI, Them Horrors Be Everywhere.
Regina’s first novel under the imprint was the best-selling Perjalanan. Detailing the life and times of Rozila, a trans woman working in London, it was a smash hit for its author, securing her subsequent opportunities.
There is a sense of longing which carries throughout Regina’s latest novel. For instance, Regina utilises 80s-era Kuala Lumpur to revisit phased out locations from the city’s ever-changing landscape.
“There are recollections of my memories in Kuala Lumpur in the book. I mention the mall where FIXI’s offices is currently located, I’ve got the Pan Pacific in there… There was this hotel which charged RM50 per day where I stayed when I was 18 years old. And Hotel Merlin has since been replaced by Hard Rock Cafe,” she reminisces.
“I put down all these memories in my fiction for my readers so they have a better understanding of the past.”
Regina hopes to write more for Malaysia’s youth readers; she deems them the future of Malaysia and hopes to expand their imagination. Delima is her first real attempt at reaching out to a younger audience; commercial pop, teenage dilemma, secrets, Malay poetry and the Indonesian language are just some of the elements which pack Regina’s story with appeal.
First picked up by MPH for her anthology titled Bedtime Stories from the Dead of Night in 2011, she quickly built a fanbase through her short story collections under FIXI titled Here Be Nightmares and Them Be Monsters. But unlike her previous works, Them Horrors Be Everywhere feels a lot closer to home.
“I wrote my first book a long time ago and tried to get it published,” Julya recollects with a gentle smile. “I e-mailed my work around — this was before FIXI came about — and some of my stories got to the United States and the United Kingdom. Back then, instead of using localised themes and places I chose names based on writers and people I know… but of course, I won’t tell you who they are.”
“As I continued writing for FIXI, my references and stories became more and more localised. This one has a very Malaysian setting; every story takes place in a different state in the country.”
During the launch of both books, one of Julya’s short stories titled The Amulet Around the Neck of a Headless Victim was performed by writers Tina Isaacs and Joe Chin. The short, written as a dialogue between two Malaysian characters, revolves around a couple who come across a skeleton and a mobile phone with some disturbing text messages.
Both Delima and Them Horrors Be Everywhere were released on 27 November 2016 and can be obtained from most major bookstores and the newly-relocated Kedai Fixi.
Follow FIXI on Facebook for more updates or drop by 4-24&4-25, Level 4, Sunway Putra Mall, Jalan Putra, Kuala Lumpur to grab books by Regina Ibrahim, Julya Oui and other Malaysian authors!