Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Movie-Worthy Novels, To Say the Least

So during my so-called hiatus and cabin fever, you might wonder exactly what have I been up to. Well, aside from the unmentionables and none-of-your-businesses, there is one thing worthy of mention. In fact, it's more than that, it's something I'd like to promote as something Malaysians gotta at least check out, don't let this one sneak past your radar.

I had no idea what it means the first time I saw it. If anything, I thought it was some kind of a wordplay on the word 'fix'... What is it that they fix? I had no idea, but one look at the website and I immediately interpreted it as a publishing company here to "fix" what I deem is wrong with the local literary scene. Don't quote me on that, though. The company said no such thing, this is just how I see it.

There is one thing that this company is doing differently, and that is the scope of the stories they choose to publish. You see, when it comes to Malay novels, the market is flooded with sappy love stories about broken hearts and unrequited love, or maybe the trend has changed since the last time I checked? Granted, I've never read a novel in Bahasa Malaysia outside the school syllabus, but judging by my frequent visits to MPH and Popular bookstores, I believe I wasn't exaggerating.

So without further ado, here's a taste of what Fixi novels are all about;

The novels
The writers: (From left) Ridhwan Saidi, Khairulnizam Bakeri, Shaz Johar
Yeap, that's how I spent my last weekend. To date, I have only finished reading two of them, starting with Cekik followed by Pecah. Right now I'm in the process of reading Kougar. But the two novels impressed me enough thus far, and therefore for the first time ever in the history of this blog, I'm going to give you some book reviews... Spoiler-free, of course.

#1 Cekik
Author : Ridhwan Saidi
I don't know why I chose to read this one first, and it certainly had nothing to do with its length. It's just that, the cover caught my attention and accompanied with the title, right off the bat I can tell that the novel is not going to be apologetic about its subject matter. It wasn't, and that's the way I like it.

Pictured : Hint
I don't know why, but I'm a curious guy and I had always been attracted to learn about things that makes me (or other people, for that matter) uncomfortable, and that part of my personality somehow seeped into my preference when I chose to read this one first. What I got was a tale of hedonism, lust (read: steamy sex scenes), all interwoven with a story about... Well, why don't you find out for yourself?

What I like the most was the ethereal-like quality to the storytelling. You'll hear the story of Cekik from a bunch of unreliable narrators, so needless to say this might not be for everyone. You'll see how our protagonist jumps from one memory to another, making us wonder if the previous ones even took place to begin with. You read it once, you'll see one story. Read it another time and there's another. I can't say more about this without giving away some more integral details to the story, so let's just leave it at that.

Chances of a Movie Adaptation?
Close to zero percent. Not only the novel alone might cause some overblown moral panics, shattering the "clean" image, or rather, illusion that the society might have about our country. Expect keyboard tablighs to type away any day now, accusing Fixi of contributing to the crumble of moral values amongst Malaysians. I say screw them. After all, Fixi is all about fiction, so make sure you have all your brain cells with you before you make any uncalled-for accusations.

Even if they were somehow able to film it, I'm pretty sure much of the story will be stripped down until much of the theme and motifs lose its flavour, making the book-to-movie transition void of any significance, a pale imitation of the novel. But hell, I love the book a whole lot, so maybe a silver-screen adaptation might prove to be an eyesore in the long run.

#2 Pecah
Author : Khairulnizam Bakeri
I have little doubt that this is Fixi's most popular title to date, judging by some of the online reception I've seen. I can easily see why, this novel has an immense mainstream appeal, people of all ages and background will be able to appreciate it. Incorporating elements of a bank heist, conspiracy, brotherhood, family values and plenty of tasteful love stories thrown into the mix, I don't see how it could have gone wrong.

Pictured : Not from the actual novel/movie
Right off from its ambitious start, you might be intrigued by the concept of a bank heist, but believe me when I say that that is only the tip of the iceberg. Aptly named Pecah, the novel in its entirety is a crime thriller, which means there are secrets after secrets to discover with every page, making this a hard one to put down once you've start reading.

I have only one complain, although this is in no part the fault of author Khairulnizam Bakeri or publisher Fixi. Frankly, my Bahasa Malaysia is very rusty, stuck somewhere between PMR and UPSR, so some of the vocabulary were just out of my range. For example, I can't for the life of me figure out whatever the fuck 'bersipongang' or 'arloji' mean.

Chances of a Movie Adaptation?
Very likely. As I have said earlier, it has great mainstream appeal, as long as they can get past some problems of using real-life settings like the novel did, I can't see why we won't be seeing the silver screen version of this novel in the future.

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