Thursday, October 29, 2009

Qur'an and Cricket

qur'an and cricket: Travels through the madrasahs of Asia and other stories by Farish A Noor. RM40.00

This book is a travelogue by Farish Noor that spans the period from 2004 to early 2009. Versions of many of these pieces have appeared elsewhere before, but many have been completely rewritten. Here is an excerpt from the book:

However, in the course of the same research I have also visited some rather dodgy institutions that can hardly be called madrasahs. Once in Pakistan I had to interview some students while in the corner of the room played a videotape of the gruesome murder and decapitation of the American journalist Daniel Pearl. The boys I was speaking to were between seven to ten years of age, and were smiling and laughing -- while others lay asleep. I tried to look away as long as I could, resisting the urge to puke.
(From Santri: Another Look at the Pesantren al-Mukmin of Abu Bakar Ba'ashir.)

Farish A Noor, academic, activist, traveller extraordinaire, visits, lives and interviews students (and others) in 'jihad factory' madrasahs (Islamic seminaries) from Patani to Pakistan and from Kashmir to Cairo, and comes away dazed and confused. In attempting to make sense of it all, he ends up confronting his own demons and nightmares.

This is a book that only Farish A Noor will attempt and can write. He visits locations we would like to avoid even in our worst nightmares. Although he writes with his sense of humour firmly in place throughout, that does not obscure the seriousness of the subject. Is the world ready for some truth?

quran and cricket is now available in all major bookstore in Malaysia, or you may buy it online from

Also available (at Silverfish Books only) are a set of six postcards with photographs and drawings by Farish A Noor. These are priced at RM5.00 a set, but will be given away free with every purchase of quran and cricket (at Silverfish Books only) while stocks last.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

History of Penang

Penang and Its Region ( The Story of an Asian Entrepot ) edited by Khoo Salma Nasution, Loh Wei Leng, Neil Khor, Yeoh Seng Guan (RM 45.00)

From its beginnings in the late eighteenth century, the vibrant colonial port of Penang attracted a diverse range of peoples, enabled pioneering commercial enterprises, and fomented inter-ethnic collaboration and inter-cultural borrowings. The island came to be known as the "Pearl of the Orient", and for many travellers it was their first port of call in Southeast Asia. In the early nineteenth century, Singapore displaced Penang in international trade, but the island remained a major focus of regional trade. For this reason, the story of Penang's relations with the Malay Peninsula and other parts of Southeast Asia reveal a great deal about conditions within the region.

This collection discusses the personal networks that have linked prominent individuals in Penang with neighbouring areas, and then considers the position of the island as a whole within the Southeast Asian region. Specifically, the authors write about local entrepreneurs, mutual help associations, and cross border trading and political networks, and aspects of how the cosmopolitan population of the island negotiated the transition from British colony to Malaysian state.