Durians Are Not the Only Fruit: Notes from the Tropics
Wong Yoon Wah
Translated from the Chinese by Jeremy Tiang
In this mix of memoir, essay and nature writing, Wong Yoon Wah evokes the beauty and seduction of the tropical rainforest and rubber plantations of his childhood in Malaya. He examines what surrounds us: the fruits we grow, the food we eat, the trees and animals that thrive in our midst. Along the way, we gain fascinating insights: how thunder tea rice acquired its name; how early settlers used the rain tree to tell time; how the behaviour of ants can tell us when a monsoon is about to arrive. Both personal and informative, this selection of Wong’s essays is a stunning re-addition to the creative non-fiction landscape.
“Durians Are Not the Only Fruit is a delightfully atypical publication to find in English...Jeremy Tiang smoothly renders Wong’s musings and reminiscences, whetting the appetite for the translator’s own writing...while Wong is chronicling his expulsion from the world of his youth, this volume sets that same world as a monument.”
—Josh Stenberg, Nanjing University, World Literature Today
“[A] truly valuable collection…To read this collection, is to gain a new perspective towards nature…I thoroughly enjoyed the reading of Wong’s fantastic, nuanced writing and the vividness of his expression. Wong Yoon Wah makes the rainforest, the kampung, the villagers and the animals come alive in an educational yet interesting read.”
—Daniel Chan, npTribune
About the Cultural Medallionist
Wong Yoon Wah grew up on a rubber plantation against the tumultuous backdrop of the Malayan Emergency and spent most of his childhood in a New Village set up by the British. A writer, poet and scholar specialising in comparative and post-colonial Chinese literature, with an international following, Dr Wong studied English literature at Taiwan’s National Chengchi University, and pursued his PhD in Chinese literature at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He was a former head of the Department of Chinese Studies at the National University of Singapore. He also served as Dean and Faculty Professor at Taiwan’s Yuan Ze University before becoming senior vice president of Southern University College, Malaysia. His awards include the China Times Literary Award for non-fiction, The Epoch Poetry Award, the S.E.A. Write Award, the ASEAN Cultural Award and Singapore’s Cultural Medallion.
About the Translator
Jeremy Tiang is the translator of the novels The Promise Bird by Zhang Yueran, Unrest by Yeng Pway Ngon and Island of Silence by Su Wei-chen, as well as many short stories and plays. His short fiction has won the Golden Point Award, and has been published in Fleurs des Lettres,Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Litro, the Philippines Free Press and The Istanbul Review. He was also a participant of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. In 2013, he was awarded a PEN/Heim translation grant.
About the Series
The Cultural Medallion is Singapore’s highest cultural award, given to those who have achieved artistic excellence in the areas of literature, dance, music, theatre and art. It was instituted in 1979 to recognise individuals whose artistic excellence and commitment to the arts have enriched and made a distinction to Singapore’s arts and cultural landscape. Epigram Books’ Cultural Medallion series seeks to translate the works of Cultural Medallion winners writing in Tamil, Malay and Chinese into English. Matching writers with some of the best translators working in the field today, these books are being made available to an English-language audience for the first time.
Size: 153 x 225mm
Published: October 2013
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