November 2016 Bestsellers

november-2016-bestsellersNOVEMBER BESTSELLERS. It’s no surprise that last month’s bestsellers’ list is dominated by writers who appeared at the recently concluded George Town Literary Festival – widely regarded as the best edition so far. One oddity, especially within the book trade, is that four poetry titles made the top dozen, testimony to the enduring appeal of the form to discerning readers. And top of the pile was Malchin Testament (Maya Press), edited by the indefatigable Malachi Edwin Vethamani; it’s a fine anthology of Malaysian poets from the likes of Antares Maitreya, Bernice Chauly, Ee Tiang Hong, Cecil Rajendra, Muhammad Haji Salleh and Shirley Geok-lin Lim to younger writers such as Omar Musa, Shivani Sivagurunathan and Catalina Rembuyan. The other poetry titles were Tishani Doshi’s Everything Begins Everywhere (Bloodaxe Books), powerful meditations born on the joineries of life and death, union and separation, memory and dream; Melizarani T. Selva’s Taboo (Perfect Binding Press), one of the most successful spoken-word collections to transfer to the page; and Cecil Rajendra’s experimental Shakti Symphony that dances to different musical rhythms. In solidarity with the courageous Zunar, arrested during the festival on spurious charges of sedition (once again), his latest collection Wasabi (Wa Sapu Billion) came in at the runner’s-up spot. Tash Aw’s very fine meditation on migration and memory, Strangers on a Pier (Restless Books) represents some of his very best writing. Laurel Fantauzzo’s The First Impulse (Anvil Publishing), which just made it in time for the festival thanks to Amir Muhammad, is a retelling of the love and life of the victims of an unsolved murder. The British humanist philosopher, A.C. Grayling, held audiences spellbound and all his books found ready readers, notably The God Argument (Bloomsbury) and The Challenge of Things (Bloomsbury). A. Jessie Michael’s first collection The Mad Man and Other Stories (Maya Press) was launched at the festival and met with a strong response. Meanwhile, Stefan Hertmans’s stunning novel War and Turpentine (Vintage), which brings his grandfather’s recollections of the first world war vividly and poignantly to life, is surely one of the novels of 2016. And who was the non-festival interloper? It was the beautifully written memoir of our late friend, Benedict Anderson, A Life Beyond Boundaries (SIRD/Verso), a warm and wise reflection of a life well led. Here’s the full list:
1. Malachi Edwin Vethamani (ed.), Malchin Testament (Maya Press)
2. Zunar, Wasabi (Wa Sapu Billion)
3. Tishani Doshi, Everything Begins Everywhere (Bloodaxe Books)
4. Benedict Anderson, A Life Beyond Boundaries (SIRD/Verso)
5. Tash Aw, Strangers on a Pier (Restless Books)
6. Laurel Fantauzzo, The First Impulse (Anvil Publishing)
7. A.C. Grayling, The God Argument (Bloomsbury)
8. A.C. Grayling, The Challenge of Things (Bloomsbury)
9. Melizarani T. Selva, Taboo (Perfect Binding Press)
10. A. Jessie Michael, The Mad Man and Other Stories (Maya Press)
11. Cecil Rajendra, Shakti Symphony
12. Stefan Hertmans, War and Turpentine (Vintage)november-2016-bestsellers

Charis Loke
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