Friday, June 5, 2015

[Link] Malaysians Seek Escape in Pulp Fiction as Government’s Grip Tightens

Rahman Roslan for The New York Times

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — When Anis Suhaila wants a cheap thrill, she turns to Instagram and Twitter to learn about the latest Malaysian paperback releases. But she does not buy them in ordinary bookstores here, some of which do not carry the titles she is most interested in.

Instead, she usually heads to one of the “pop up” book markets that appear occasionally, almost randomly, on the streets in Kuala Lumpur to find what she is looking for: risqué tales of crime, horror and gritty young love that are written in Malay and aimed at young Muslim Malaysians.

The writing can be patchy, but it is fresh and edgy, said Ms. Anis, 24, a manager at an education company, adding that the stories sometimes touch on “something that is relevant” to Malaysia’s political scene. She devours four books a month, she said, the most recent a tale of a boy who can see ghosts.

This new-style pulp fiction, much of it by first-time authors who got their start blogging, is the product of an independent, irreverent publishing industry that has sprung up over the past four years and has tapped into a desire for escapism among younger Malaysians as their country has become more socially conservative.

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