Thursday, October 23, 2008

About The Authors

Notes on Contributors

Ee Tiang Hong was born in Malacca in 1933 into a well known Baba family. Malay or Peranakan (the Baba variant of the Malay language) was his mother tongue. He grew up with the myths and mores of the Malay world. At the same time, even though he could not speak Chinese, the Chinese cultural strands remained in the core of values and beliefs, costume, cuisine and festivals. Like many of the older group of Malaysian writers in English, Ee was from the last generation to have been educated in English and to have seen so many political changes within a relatively short time. At the Tranquerah English High School where he had his primary education, Ee learnt English songs and rhymes; at the Malacca High School he was introduced to English poetry and the Western literary and cultural heritage behind it. He was an avid reader, and the Japanese occupation, which brought access to Japanese stories, served to broaden his reading (p.23-24).

K.S Maniam was born in Bedong, Kedah in 1942. He is a Tamil Hindu, a descendent of a former migrant who came to Malaya from India around 1916. His father was a laundryman for the local hospital and the parents also tapped rubber at a nearby estate. The familiar scene of living in a hospital compound and observing the estate worker’s lifestyle became the introduction to his sense of understanding of the Indian community which would form the basis of his first novel The Return. He began his primary education in a Tamil school but after a year, continued in English at the Ibrahim School in Sungai Petani, Kedah. After the completion of his schooling, Maniam became a student-teacher for a few months before leaving for India to study medicine. However, a year later, he left India for Britain, changing his area of studies to Education. He received his Certificate Education from the Malayan Teachers College in Wolverhampton, Britain in 1964, and later, taught for several years in secondary schools in Kedah. He then continued his studies at the University of Malaya where he received his Bachelors degree in 1973, and later his Masters degree in 1979 with a thesis entitled “A Critical History of Malaysian and Singaporean Poetry in English”. Upon completing his graduate studies, he became a faculty member of the English Department, as a lecturer between 1980 and 1986, and as an Associate Professor between 1987 and 1997. He has since retired from academia and is now a full-time writer (p.168-169).

Kamala Das was born on March 31, 1934 in Malabar in Kerala. She was recognized as one of the India’s foremost poets. She started to write poems in her early age as she was influenced by her uncle who is a prominent writer. Besides, Das also deeply affected by the poetry of her mother, Nalapat Balamani Amma, and the sacred writings kept by the matriarchal community of Nayar. She got her private education until the age of 15 and her husband, K. Madhava Das gives her full support in his writing.

Jose Garcia Villa is a poet, critic, short story writer and painter. He was born in Singalong, Manila, on 5th August 1908. His parents were Simeon Villa, personal physician of revolutionary general Emilio Aguinaldo, and Guia Garcia. He graduated from the UP High School in 1925 and enrolled in the pre-med course. He didn’t enjoy working on cadavers and he switched to pre-law, which he didn’t like either. A short biography prepared by the Foreign Service Institute said Villa was first interested in painting but turned to writing after reading Sherwood Anderson’s “Winesburg, Ohio”

Lee Tzu Pheng was born on May 13, 1946 and educated in Singapore. She has a Ph.D in English Department from the University of Singapore from where she has recently as a Senior Lecturer in its English Department. She has won the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS) for her volumes of poems which were Prospect of a Drowning (1980), Against the Next Wave, (1988) and The Brink of An Amen (1991). Besides, she is also a Cultural Medallion Award winner for Literature in 1985, and was the recipient of other awards such as the Southeast Asia WRITE Award (1987), Gabriela Mistral Award (Chile, 1995) and the Montblanc-NUS Centre for the Arts Literary Award for English Poetry (1996). Lee is often seen as one of a generation of ‘nation-building’ English writers in Singapore, whose work in the 50’s-70’s questioned the identity of the newly independent nation (
Gopal Baratham has written three books of short stories and three novels. The stories are collected in Love Letters and Other Stories, People Make Your Cry and Memories That Glow in the Dark. The novels are A Candle Or the Sun, Sayang and Moonrise, Sunset. He is a neurosurgeon and lives Singapore (Dipika Mukherjee et.all, 2002).

David Diop was born in Bordeaux, France, of a Senegalese father and a Cameroonian mother. After his father died, he was raised by his mother. Diop had his primary education in Senegal, and then he attended the Lychee Marcelin Berthelott in Paris during World War II. At home Diop read the works of Aime Cesaire and debuted as a poet while still at school. Several of his poems were published in Leopold Senghor’s famous Anthologie dela nouvelle poesie negre at malgache (1948), which became an important landmark of modern black writing in French. Most of his life Diop lived in France, and he often expressed his longing to Africa in his poems: “Let these words of anguish keep time with your/restless step-/ Oh I am lonely so lonely here..” Due to his poor health- he was a semi-invalid for most of his life after contracting tuberculosis-Diop changed his career plans from medicine to the liberal arts. He obtained two baccalaureats and a license-es-lettres. In 1950 he married Virginia Kamara, who was the centre of many his poems (

Doan Thi Diem (1705-1748) was born in Bac Ninh, lived and taught in Sai Trang, Chuong Duong and Thang Long (former name of Hanoi), then died in Nghe An. She was a concubine of Nguyen Kieu, a mandarin and envoy to China. She was well-known as a poet from the age of 15, and is best remembered for a 408-line translation into Nom of Dang Tran Con’s Chinese poem “Chinh Phu Ngam” Scholar consistently note that her translation surpasses the original in imagery and poetic technique. She wrote many other books, most of which have been lost (

Suchen Christine Lim is a writer, curriculum material developer, teacher and weekend beachcomber. She has written novels, short stories, children’s stories, textbooks, one play as well as one solitary poem. Her novel, Fistful Of Colour, was the first novel to be awarded the Singapore Literature Prize in 1992. Her latest novel, A Bit of Earth (2000), is set in colonial Malaya. Her other novels are Ricebowl (1984) and Gift From The Gods. In 1997, Suchen was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to attend the University of Iowa’s International Writers’ Program (Dina Zaman, 2003)