Sunday, July 8, 2007

Book - Taikor
Over the past two months, i have read some books and will post them accordingly on what i think of them.
I read this book after i read Mamasa. It was written by the same author Mr Khoo Kheng Hor . It is the first novel written by him. His first novel, "Taikor" was released in late 2004. It's a historical saga of Malaya which traces the years 1922 to 1982, telling the story of Ya Loong, from his family’s migration from South Thailand to Penang after his father’s death.
It was among the 132 entries nominated for the 2006 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.Beside telling us the story of how Ya Loong lived.
It also tells us about the living conditions back then. How it was during the British rule, Japanese rule and subsequently how things change once Malaya gained Independence in 1957.
Taikor means big brother in Cantonese. It can be also an honorary thing.
It was given a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. This book is sold out in
"Malaysian literature is not very well known in the western world and it is a pleasure to find a highly readable example of historical saga which brings to life what for many will be a vivid and exciting period of modern history. Taikor tells the story of modern Malaysia through the lives of a variety of characters, from the gangster who is given the title of Taikor (elder brother) and his family, as well as politicians, police officers, visiting British officials, a Vietnamese assassin, Japanese military officials and Chinese ancestors.
As a young man, Ya Loong – readers will learn a lot about the use of honorifics in Malay Chinese society – falls out with his stepfather and is banished to make his own way in life, in the type of reversal of fortune that will be familiar to those who enjoy this genre of writing. He rescues a Japanese officer, in occupation of Malaysia (note: He rescued the Japanese in China not in Malaysia), from a savage beating and gains an important future ally.
He tattoos his arm in a fit of boyhood bravery and then has to have it removed when the presence of such symbols marks people out for arrest by the occupying forces (in occupation of Malaysia).
After the war, he moves into the world of being a gangster and carves out his own territory.
As is conventional in such fiction, he resists dealing with drugs and prostitution and we see rival gang leaders who do not object to getting their hands dirty with such industries becoming coarsened and even beastialised as a result. The creation of Malaysia as an independent state is occurring as a backdrop to the events and lives of the characters. The transition from British dependency to a modern, well-developed state is one of the great stories of modern history, of course and something of the chaotic, contingent atmosphere seeps through here."
As i read this book (again i finished it very fast), the way Ya Loong changed from being a young rebel (with a cause) to a 'humble' individual (although can be deadly at times), it was as if i was reading about Don Corleone (of the Godfather).
Ya Loong as with Don Corleone, only uses force as a last resort. He will always negotiate first. And they don;t do drugs either.
He he, the irony of it was, in the book there was also a mention of the Godfather movie. Its a good book.
The book also talks about his relationship with his mother, brothers and stepfather. How he wanted his stepfather to accept him. And his own relatioship with his own children. In those days, where got fathers hug their sons and say 'i love u'. Even till this day, most father don;t do it.
But at least he did thought about it and tried to change the way he treats his son.

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