As far as Malay literature goes, there is a popular misconception that it’s all about shallow romance novels and horror comedies. This is actually not true. Malay literature is deep and diverse, and there is actually a thriving indie publishing scene that’s growing larger by the year.

If you’d like to explore Malay novels, here are some of the titles that are worth adding to your collection:

1. Salina by A. Samad Said

This was one of the first books written by our National Laureate, A. Samad Said in 1961 while he was a young writer in Singapore. As with many of his works, this one tells the tale of the protagonist’s fight to survive. Salina is a young girl forced to work as a hostess in Singapore to escape her poverty, and is set is a post World War II Singapore.

Where to buy?

Lejen Press

Salina by A Samad said
Image credit: Lejen Press

2. Awek Chuck Taylor 1: Kapsul Masa by Nami Cob Nobbler

Awek Chuck Taylor is a trilogy by Nami Cob Nobbler and as always, you should start with part 1. The synopsis states that the writer, experiencing writer’s block, goes out on a walk to pack some food. On his way back from a roadside TomYam stall, he encounters a giant cat named Hamid MD. The cat offers him two pills, one to go to the future, and one to the past.

The novel is a quirky exploration of romantic comedy, done in an almost abstract style that parodies some of the author’s own real-life experiences.

Where to buy:
Lejen Press

Awek Chuck Taylor
Image credit: Lejen Press

3. Di Situ Langit Dijunjung by Hanna Alkaf ( Translation)

Hanna Alkaf’s original novel ‘The Weight of Our Sky’ was originally written in English, and this Malay version has been artfully translated by Fahmi Mustaffa. The novel takes place during the May 16 race riots and tells the story of Melati Ahmad, a young 16-year-old girl. Melati harbors a secret. She believes her body houses a Djinn that will kill her mother unless she appeases it with a complex ritual of counting and tapping.

As the chaos of the riots unfolds around her, Melati gets separated from her mother in the flames and enlists the help of Vincent, a young Chinese boy, to help her find her way back to her mother again.

Where to buy?
Buku Fixi

Di situ langit dijunjung
Image credit: Buku Fixi

4. Anomali by Syafiq Aizat

In Anomali, three individuals with superpowers come together to investigate a strange phenomenon where an entity who calls himself God controls and punishes those he believes are criminals. Of these three individuals, one can read minds, one has defeated the Krampus and the last has encountered beings from another realm. Will they be able to find this new and powerful entity before it costs them their lives?

Where to buy?
Buku Fixi

Anomali
Image credit: Buku Fixi

5.Lelaki Terakhir Menangis di Bumi by Musa Nuwayri

Musa Nuwayri’s memoirs tell of the time that he volunteered for a humanitarian mission to Jordan to help Syrian refugees. As a 19-year-old, he joined Tangisan Syria di Bumi Jordan to see first hand the level of suffering endured by the Syrian refugees. Each page is yet another dramatic retelling of stories from the ground of a real Syrian refugee camp, complete with tales of betrayal, pain, and hope.

Where to buy?

Dubook Press

Lelaki terakhir book cover
Image credit: Dubook Press

6. The Murtad Trilogy by Hasrul Rizwan

Identical twins Adam and Akhil have just been hired as assassins, but for whom? As they discover the true purpose of their job they begin to question their faith and what they have been taught. The issue of falling away from one’s belief system is the central question that this novel tries to explore in a fair and just way.

Where to buy?

GerakBudaya

Murtad by Hasrul Rizwan
Image credit: Gerak Budaya

Shop for all your Malay novels online. Sites like Kinokuniya also carry many titles that you can buy if they catch your eye. Just use our promo codes to get discounts, cashbacks and more for the books you buy.