Category Archives: A Conversation With

A Conversation With… Franz Lanzaderas

What book got you into reading?

It would have to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude”. It was a required reading for Literature class in college. I love magic realism. After reading it, I was led to some of his books like “Of Love and Other Demons” and “Love In the Time of Cholera”. Reading has become extensive since then. With friends who are literary buffs too, I was led to authors of the same genre, South American writers such as Laura Esquivel “Like Water For Chocolate”, Isabelle Allende then of course there are the poets Octavio Paz and Pablo Neruda, of whose poetry were like a favorite past time.

Was it just magic realism genre that got you into reading? 

I scanned through my old Multiply account and found out the books that I’ve read in college included Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “The Sorrows of Young Wurther”, Ranier Maria Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet”, John Fowles’ “The French Lieutenant’s Woman”. Judging from the selection of books, I guess you can dub me a romantic.

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A Conversation with… Hazirah Tahamit on Reading as Challenges in her Life

How did you get into reading?

When I was in Primary 6, a friend of mine, DK Ainil, constantly urged me to read. We were best friends, and according to her we should have the same hobby. I used to hate her for that as it felt like she was trying to impose her hobby on me. One of the things she did to fish for my attention and curiosity was to constantly give me free books to read. I still remember being forced to read a silver covered book, with some sort of greenish and gooey-looking caption ‘Goosebumps’ emblazoned on it. Apparently, as put by Ainil, ‘Goosebumps is the current thing’ at that time. Thus began my love of reading. It didn’t start off well – I had loads of nauseated moments trying to decipher some ‘alien’ words when I first started, but somehow that didn’t stop me from reading. Initially, it was largely because of my fear of ruining my friendship with Ainil, but now, I can argue that I’ve developed my love of reading because of my own efforts.


From Goosebumps, where did you progress afterwards?

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A Conversation with… Jay M Johar on humour

What exposed you to reading humour?

As a kid, I used to read those children’s joke books. I liked puns, even from an early age. Being one of the few people in my class who appreciated jokes in English (I went to a school where English literacy is quite low), I ended up always calling my cousin to tell these jokes. She lived in USA for a while, and as a kid I was excited to have someone to tell these jokes to. Looking back on it, she must have found me so obnoxious.

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A Conversation With… Carol Ajuni Tan on Asian Literature and How She Teaches Her Children to Read

A pattern I’m noticing from your postings on the B:Read Bookswap group/fan page and your attendance during our bookswaps is your interest in Asian literature. Where does the fascination come from?

What I actually enjoy are books with rich cultural setting – preferably traditional and definitely historical. Asian, because it’s our heritage – it’s interesting to learn why we, coming from and living amongst multi-ethic families and communities, think and behave in certain ways.

My Asian fascination began after I watched The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan in the 90s – then read the book. My favorite parts was where she described the lives of the 4 women in China in the early 1900s. It’s like reading a history, cultural, travel, language and cook book all at once!

Since her, I have always seek other Asian authors and was happy to discover Amitav Ghosh, an Indian author. In fact, I am currently alternating between my 3rd Amitav Ghosh and 5th Amy Tan!

I have not been exposed to a lot of Asian literature, but more with literature written by white people who lived in Asia. For myself, personally, I’m more in touch with non-fiction regarding Southeast Asia than the fiction. What does Asian literature offer more to you that you cannot find in the environment you live in?

Asia is such a fascinating continent – with the different tribes, way of living, traditions, customs, history etc. I am more partial to Asian culture in fiction setting as oppose to other equally fascinating cultures e.g. South Americans or Africans because it is easier to relate to them.

It’s like reading a non-fiction on cultural/historical studies but in selected and most interesting doses that later on, if I so incline, I can research further once I have finished the fiction – and most of the time, I do that. I get lead on names of tribes or towns or traditions and I will do a quick read up. One interesting thing I learn was that headhuntings are not limited to Borneo – there are many other tribes that do this in the olden days, and I find this sort of information fascinating!

And I must clarify that I am not interested in Asian literatures that are Westernized – no characters in Gucci outfit sipping latte in a Starbucks cafe somewhere in Singapore because this scene is “us” now – I’m not interested to read about us.

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A Conversation With… Nurfatehah Shamsul on Poetry

A Conversation With… is a series where B:Read interviews readers in Brunei, asking them questions pertaining to genres they enjoy reading and looking into their reading pattern.  We hope this series will provide Bruneians an opportunity to look into other genres that they have never read before or give non-readers an opportunity to look into something that might spark their curiosity while reading the interview.

Launching this series is Nurfatehah Shamsul, a 17-year-old student who will begin the next phase of her life as a Food Marketing and Business Economics undergraduate at the University of Reading, UK in October 2012.

We asked Fate about her love for poetry.


You seem to enjoy poetry a lot judging by your postings on the B:Read Bookswap Facebook page to your own personal writings on your Tumblr. What is it about poetry that you seem to connect with as a format?

Poetry has given me an alternative way of expressing myself, what with having written only prose all my life. It forced me to just get to the point but be vague enough to let the reader interpret my work as they want. My thinking on poetry is that it should always give the reader something to think about, and giving people something to ponder on is what I love to do. Reading is a two-way relationship between the author and the reader; the author gives the foundation of thinking and the readers give the author a sense of fulfillment by having him/her know that they have read the work.

I agree with your point about the relationship between writer and reader, which is why poetry in Literature classes were something I abhorred. Teachers have the tendency to believe they are right when it comes to analysis. From my personal experience, my Lit teacher was insistent that The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock is about a man who cannot express their love to someone, while I viewed it as a man who is disenchanted with love because of class division. Gah! That was extremely frustrating!

How did you dealt with learning poetry in classes?

I wouldn’t even be able to tell you any of what material we studied in my English Lit classes, other than the two works of prose we had to study. And that is only because I still have the books. Ha. Continue reading