Sunday, April 26, 2009

Anwar Ridhwan : Accolades by Muhammad Haji Salleh

1970’s was understandably marked by a rich literary fecundity in all genres, and not merely in the short story alone… We must note the early stories of Anwar Ridhwan, one of the best of the crop. His first collection, Parasit, Parasite (1976), shows a talent for form, a clear language and a grasp of the themes. Four years after that he published Hari-hari Terakhir Seorang Seniman, The Last Days Of An Artist (1980), which trace the last days of a traditional story teller, a man of pride and art, but sadly overtaken by the times and their callous generations. Noriah Taslim calls it a “tragic narrative, which a theme of a fall of a person who has lost himself, his possessions and his mind.”
Arus, Currents (1985), won a prize at the Literary Awards of the same year. It has also been scripted into a TV play, and has been translated into Thai and French.
A very painstaking and meticulous writer, Anwar has developed a clean and quiet style of writing, yet often quite poetic. Though his narration had begun with the village, his travels and teaching overseas have presented him with other alternative situations, lands and themes, and he has taken these into his later works, especially Naratif Ogonshoto, Tales of Ogonshoto (2001). This is an intricate novel that weaves its fine threads not only into the reminiscence of an old Japanese widower, but also into the more universal and contemporary issues of hegemony and identity. Written in a rare and sensitive linguistic medium, this is one of Anwar’s best novel.
Anwar Ridhwan too was involved in the drama scene in the 1990’s, with his Orang-orang Kecil, The Little People (1990), and Yang Menjelma dan Menghilang, Those Who Appear and Those Who Disappear (1992). These are experiments with time and space... Anwar won a proze for his second play, but the stage is a side interest for this accomplished novelist (Muhammad Haji Salleh, An Introcuction to Modern Malaysian Literature. Kuala Lumpur : Institut Terjemahan Negara Malaysia, 2008).