Matahari Books has started a crowdfunding campaign for its next illustrated book, Wanted: Botak Chin, which will be published in February 2021. The publishing house, responsible for a string of edgy and rebellious Malaysian writings for the last 13 years, has described their new project as a “non-fiction account of the most notorious Malaysian criminal of the 1970s”. The book will be written by Danny Lim with illustrations by Michelle Lee.
Botak Chin is the alias of Wong Swee Chin, an infamous gangster known for many major armed robberies in Kuala Lumpur from the 1960s to the 1970s. There’s plenty of lore surrounding his crimes; some claim he has talismans that make him impervious to bullets, others draw parallels between him and Robin Hood. Still, he was captured by the police in 1976 and hanged five years later in Pudu Prison at the age of 28.
Matahari Books’ latest campaign for Wanted: Botak Chin offers 200 people the opportunity of having their name printed in the book for a minimum donation of RM50 (or US$25, if outside Malaysia). The publishing house last attempted crowdfunding in July this year for The Malay Tale of The Pig King, an illustrated adaptation of the obscure folktale Hikayat Raja Babi. That book exceeded campaign goals within 48 hours of its announcement.
Established in 2017, Matahari Books is one of local literature’s more subversive players. Its track record includes the illustrated series, Malaysian Politicians Say The Darndest Things, and the groundbreaking 2009 compilation, Body 2 Body: A Malaysian Queer Anthology. Last year, the publisher collaborated with the Embassy of France to produce What I Saw In Malaya, a collection of observations by the late French ethnologist Jeanne Cuisinier.