SHORT STORIES

2024

Have I Got Something To Tell You (Singapore, Penguin Random House SEA, 2024)

Malachi Edwin Vethamani’s twenty short stories span half a century of Malaysian history and an even more generous sweep of human emotions, universal and particular, specific to ethnic, gender and individual characters. I first met Edwin in Kuala Lumpur decades ago when he was composing his earliest poems. Going from strength to strength, this now prolific multi-genre writer and editor has emerged as an important literary figure in 21st century Malaysian Anglophone culture. The experiences narrated in his newest collection engage us with their pathos, learning, joy, and comic satire. Have I Got Something to Tell You is a welcomed contribution to our local and South-east Asian literary wealth.

Shirley Geok-Lin Lim, UCSB Professor Emerita, poet, fictionist, memoirist and winner of Commonwealth Poetry Prize and American Books Awards

 

Malachi Edwin Vethamani has something to say to us. His new anthology of short stories deals with the universal themes of love, loss, and cultural identity. At the same time, his stories are specifically rooted in the Indian, Malay, and Chinese cultures within the Malaysian social fabric. Particularly evocative are his stories around sibling love, gender- religious conflict, and a beautifully tender coming-of-age love triangle. Written from the heart, his stories remind us, as echoed by one of his characters, that it is okay to love too much.

                            Mahesh Dattani
                            Playwright
                            Sahitya Akademi awardee 1998

The stories in this collection ripple with unsettling tensions. In the current political climate in Malaysia, friendship, love, kinship ties and family bonds are often complicated by race, religion, expectations, fears and prejudices against the Other. A very good read that offers the reader insights into Malaysia’s vibrant minority Tamil community. 

                            Suchen Christine Lim,
                            Novelist and short fiction writer 
                            Southeast Asia Write Award
                            & Inaugural Singapore Literature Prize

Awarded the Asian Book of the month (April 2024) by ‘The Asian Review ‘

https://www.facebook.com/share/Y6rg9qpfJJ84z1DP/?mibextid=WC7FNe

Reviews and Articles on ‘Have I Got Something To Tell You’

Newspaper article in ‘The Star’ on 25th April 2024

https://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/culture/2024/04/25/malaysian-author-highlights-story-sharing-for-stronger-bonds

Newspaper article in ‘Free Malaysia Today News’ on 25th March 2024

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/leisure/2024/03/25/malachis-got-something-to-tell-you-about-love-longing-and-life/

News story in ‘Varnam MY’ on 21st February 2024

https://varnam.my/88217/malachi-edwin-vethamanis-have-i-got-something-to-tell-you-explores-the-complexities-of-malaysian-indian-lives/

A review by a local journalist that was withdrawn last minute due to the content of the book.

‘Have I Got Something To Tell You’ delivers on this tease with stories about lonely people looking for love and finding or losing it: love triangles and surprise connections; spurned affection; hearts breaking from loving too much or pining for more, and the sheer joy of physical entanglement. Many meet covertly, stretching stolen minutes to defy prejudice, restrictions imposed by family, race, religion, politics and moral guardians who think they can censor love and attraction.

What happens when a woman comes between two buddies drawn to each other? How do you ward off blows rained on head and limbs when masked men accost you for khalwat? Before leaving for further studies, a son is reminded to come back and marry a Tamil, unlike his sister, who has not been home for years and whose name is spoken with a disappointment softened by the money she still sends home. A mute makes his feelings known to his pal through letters and on 555 notebooks and offers to make him a wristband for protection, before fate intervenes.

From one-night stands to Internet hook-ups, friendship with benefits between three guys, car sex, philandering husbands, a flippant exchange about a first date’s tool and gays who cannot resist straight men, author Malachi Edwin Vethamani leads readers to where life’s daily drama unfold under the covers. ‘Coitus Interruptus’, about how humans can plan but there might be an unseen upper hand, is among the 20 stories in this collection, as is ‘Best Man’s Kiss’ – about a man asked to be best man when his lover wed his sister – which was reworked into a short play for Inqueerable, an event organised in 2019 by Queer Ink in Mumbai.

It is tricky territory that few dare to tread but he takes confident strides with authorial authority and, one feels, sympathy for his subjects. He confronts family conflicts and tensions to broach issues that many rather hide and bring them to light.

Malachi Edwin Vethamani is a poet, critic, editor, emeritus professor with University of Nottingham and founding editor of Men Matters Online Journal.

2023

‘The Gift of Silence’ in Anitha Devi Pillai (edt) The Best Asian Short Stories, Singapore: Kitaab International PTE. LTE., 2023)

‘Healing Power’ in Portside Review Issue #11

https://www.portsidereview.com/2w0n-malachi-edwin-vethamani

“Malachi Edwin Vethamani unfolds the inheritance of cultural knowledge and pain of a Tamil family in his short story “Healing Power”, where the ghost of a great-grandmother lives on through stories of her miraculous Ayurvedic medicine, distilling unease in the present modernity of her descendants.”

                             Brandon Liew, ‘Introduction’, Portside Review  Issue #11

2022

‘The Desired One’ in Amir Muhammad (edt) The Big Book of Malaysian Horror Stories, Petaling Jaya: Fixi Novo.

The Big Book of Malaysian Horror Stories Cover

2021

‘Brother Felix’s Ward’ in Borderless Journal, August Issue 2021.

https://borderlessjournal.com/2021/08/13/brother-felixs-ward/

2020

‘Sleeping Demon’ is published in the November issue of Queer Southeast Asia Literary Journal

http://queersoutheastasia.com/

  • ‘Road Trip’ in Creative Flight Literary Journal, Vol 1, Issue 2 (October Issue) pp 193-205

https://www.creativeflight.in/road-trip

  • Coitus Interruptus and Other Stories (Petaling Jaya: Maya Press, 2018) 

Life, love, loneliness and death are the four poles that limn this collection of memorable stories. The characters are varied—women torn between marriage and emancipated lives of their own, a young boy whose taste or memory is shaped by May 13, mixed-race couples split by the walls of race and religion, gay men whose ‘love cannot be understood by their family or nation’, sassy stories showcasing the clash between superstition and modernity. Cool, clever and controversial, these stories show the shadow and light of contemporary Malaysia through the small, daily lives of its unforgettable characters.


 
Danton Remoto, poet, novelist, short story writer and essayist

 

In these stories, Malachi Edwin Vethamani bravely explores the intersections and conflicts between family and sexuality that are typical in contemporary Asian societies, yet also universal. Few Malaysian writers have dared to approach sexuality and sexual diversity with such candour and courage. Vethamani’s characters are endearingly familiar, but the quandaries and moral dilemmas they face remain unusual in Malaysian English fiction.

– Preeta Samarasan, author, Evening is A Whole Day

 

Malachi Edwin Vethamani vividly presents characters with longings that remain unfulfilled, many a times unaware of their deepest desires. Whether it is Sunita’s blunderous ‘Coitus Interruptus’ or Balan’s withdrawal from a dishonest relationship in ‘Best Man’s Kiss’, the search never ends. Incidents do not change them the way they would in stories with a more classic design. The longing continues. Like life, there are no easy resolutions. 

Vethamani’s stories compel the reader to reflect on the future of his characters. You hope they find what they are looking for. Or you hope they ultimately know what they are looking for. Either way, they are memorable and remain with you long after you have put aside these beautiful nuggets. Peopled with characters of Tamil origin, these slices of life in Malaysia are more palpable after this fine read.

– Mahesh Dattani, Playwright and Director

 

Book Reviews on Coitus Interruptus and Other Stories

By: Luis Ortega in SARE, Vol. 55, Issue, 2018
https://ejournal.um.edu.my/index.php/SARE/article/view/12264/7989

By Risa Pena Catalina 10 July 2018
http://eksentrika.com/book-review-coitus-interruptus-and-other-stories/

Elaine Chiew Interview with Malachi Edwin Vethamani at Asian Books Blog:
http://www.asianbooksblog.com/2020/08/elaine-chiew-chats-with-professor.html#more 

Readings of Short Stories

Luis Ortega reads Malachi Edwin Vethamani’s short story  ‘The Interloper’ from Coitus Interruptus and Other Stories (
Maya Press, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nlIhv4e0UA

  • Dramatization of short stories from ‘Coitus Interruptus and Other Stories’

INDIVIDUAL SHORT STORY PUBLICATIONS

2018
‘Give Us This Day’ in Business Mirror  25 November 2018 (Manila, Philippines)

2017
‘Best Man’s Kiss’ in Lakeview (Internal Journal of Literature and Arts) Vol 5, No. 2, 2017, pp 87-92.
Click Here

1996
‘Husband Material’ (short story) in The Literary Page, The New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur.  May,1996.

1995
‘The Kiss’ (short story) in Sunday Style, The New Sunday Times, Kuala Lumpur.  May 1995.