31 Jan 2010

Uthaya Sankar SB — Biodata (English)

[Versi Bahasa Malaysia -

He’s an excellent tale-weaver. – www.klue.com.my, July 2010.

“He would do well as a stand-up comedian.” – Daphne Lee, The Star, 19 June 2011

"The man behind Malaysia's interfaith tours." - Jennifer Pak, BBC News, 22 October 2013

"... the elusive, almost inconspicuous Uthaya Sankar SB, a man small in frame, large in intellect and conspicuous in his humility. ... gem of an authority on Malaysia’s national language." – Cine Fashion, April 2011

Uthaya Sankar SB is a Malaysian writer who writes in Bahasa Malaysia which he regards as his mother tongue.
"Many found his literary talents amazing." - Beboshini Unni, Malaysian Digest, 23 October 2013.

“I greatly admire Malaysian writers like Uthaya Sankar SB and Gina Yap Lai Yoong who write in BM; they are able to express themselves in a way that isn’t available to me.” – Sharmilla Ganesan, The Star, 4 September 2016

Many assume that he grew up in a Malay environment and that is the reason he can write and speak Bahasa Malaysia well. But that is far from the truth. He grew up in a village (Aulong Lama in Taiping, Perak) where the majority were Indians and there were only two Malay families. (theSun, 16 July 2009)

Sumati Muniandy (New Straits Times, 18 October 2016) recalls: “I asked famous writer Uthaya Sankar SB the secret of his ability to write in Bahasa Malaysia and English. He eloquently told me that his passion for reading is the ultimate secret for his successful career and he managed to carve a name in the writing industry.” 

Uthaya’s criticisms of Tamil literature in Malaysia entitled “What Tamil Writers?” (New Straits Times, 11 February 2004) drew a response from R Karthigesu; and his article was aptly translated to Tamil for the benefit of Malaysian Tamil writers!

Dina Zaman calls him “honestly blunt” in an article she wrote in New Straits Times (4 July 2001) while Amir Muhammad refers to Uthaya as “one of our brightest literary stars and has won many awards” in The Edge (19 November 2001) and “a local Haruki Murakami” in News Straits Times (28 January 2005).

“Uthaya’s particular gifts lie in his narrative skill and playful deconstructions of the story form. He easily ranks among the finest writers in this country because his seriousness of purpose is wedded to an admirable lightness of touch. He has fun with the stories, and the fun is infectious” says Amir Muhammad in New Straits Times (13 February 2002) and “He has been one of our most prolific and consistent creative writers for over a decade” in Malay Mail (23 July 2008).

He is also known as “a writer who does not fail to capture the attention of his audience with his outspokenness and, not to forget, provocative introductions” as mentioned by Cheah Phaik Kin in New Straits Times (2 December 1998).

In Rachael Philip’s opinion, Uthaya is “Swaggeringly arrogant. Impudently bold. Undeniably talented. ... a regular bloke; no mood swings and eccentricities that regularly surround an author” as mentioned in New Straits Times (28 August 2005).

Bissme S refers to Uthaya as one of the few active non-Malay writers known in the Malay literary circle” in The Sun (13 March 1999).

“Uthaya Sankar SB is a novelist and activist actively writing and campaigning for religious freedom and social justice in Malaysia.”Article 19 (24 January 2014)

“Uthaya is truly one of the rare few who lovingly treats Bahasa Malaysia as his mother tongue. It is hard to come by such talented Malaysian writers. Uthaya is one of them without a doubt,” says Sukhbir Cheema @ Cassius Ribhkus, the co-editor of Eksentrika, a content website dedicated to inspire, showcase and promote creative talents in Malaysia.

[Please CLICK HERE to read some of the articles in English]

This trilingual writer shifted to Klang, Selangor in 1991 before settling in Shah Alam, Selangor in 2000. He studied in Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Convent Aulong, Sekolah Menengah Darul Ridwan, Sekolah Menengah King Edward VII, Jabatan Pengajian Media, Universiti Malaya and Jabatan Persuratan Melayu, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

Uthaya lectured Bahasa Malaysia, Moral Education and Malaysian Studies in various colleges from 1999 to 2008, including in International College of Music (ICOM), HELP Institute, Limkokwing Institute of Creative Technology(LICT), The One Academy, Yamaha Academy of Arts & Music, Prime College USJ, MSC International College, Summit International College, SEGi College Subang Jaya, SIT International College and Optima College.

Between 1996 and 2009, he was also attached to Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) as Bahasa Malaysia news editor, newscaster, newspaper reviewer and coordinator of the RTM Disaster Unit. He was also appointed news content editor at Bernama Radio24 in 2008.

In February 2010, Uthaya joined Kumpulan Media Karangkraf in Shah Alam, Selangor before becoming a freelancer in March 2011 and founded Uthaya's Media, Motivation and Publication Consultancy. Uthaya is a HRDF certified trainer.

He has won many awards, namely Hadiah Cerpen Maybank-DBP (1992, 1993 & 1996), Hadiah Sastera Utusan-Public Bank (1993), Hadiah Cerpen Esso-Gapena (1996), Hadiah Sastera Perdana Malaysia (1996/97 and 1998/99) and Hadiah Sastera Kumpulan Utusan-ExxonMobil (2003).

Uthaya was also awarded Ambassador for Peace by the Universal Peace Federation in 2008 for his contribution towards peace, understanding and unity through writing. He was also appointed in the Special Panel to ammend Interlok (Student Edition) in 2011.

His short story compilations are Orang Dimensi (DBP: 1994), Siru Kambam (DBP: 1996 and 1997), Yang Aneh-aneh (Sasbadi: 1997), Surat dari Madras (DBP: 1999), Nayagi (JPMUM: 2000), Sasterawan Pulau Cinta (USSB: 2001), Rudra Avatara (USSB: 2008), Kathakali (USSB: 2009), Kisah dari Siru Kambam (USSB: 2013) and Pulau Pendatang (USSB: 2015). 

Uthaya edited Vanakam (USSB: 2002), an anthology of Bahasa Malaysia short stories by Malaysian Indian writers. Malaiur Manikam (2015) is his collection of essays.

He has also written two novels: Hanuman: Potret Diri (DBP: 1996) which was republished as Hanuman: Suara Hati (USSB: 2013), and Panchayat (USSB: 2002) which was republished as Panchayat: Edisi Khas (USSB: 2012). His children stories are compiled in Koleksi Cerita Ikan (Maselga: 1997), Cerita Rakyat Asia Co-mel (Percetakan Nasional: 1997), Nari! Nari! (DBP: 1995 and 2000) and Munis dengan Harimau (Fajar Bakti: 1996). Nari! Nari! was republished in a new edition in 2015. Ikan Patin dan Beruang Besar (USSB: 2017) is a compilation of short stories for children.

[Updated version -- HERE]

Uthaya is the founder president of Kumpulan Sasterawan Kavyan (Kavyan Writers’ Group) since August 1999. Kavyan set a record in The Malaysia Book of Records in 2003 through Baca Cerpen Kavyan, a non-stop Bahasa Malaysia short story recital for 96 hours and 32 minutes. Kavyan was also awarded Anugerah Budayawan Selangor in 2005.

He blogs at www.uthayasb.blogspot.my on a regular basis; mostly in Bahasa Malaysia. Uthaya is also a columnist in Free Malaysia Today, The Malaysian Insider, Projek Dialog and The Malay Mail Online news portals.

Dipika Mukherjee, the author of Thunder Demons (2011) commented on Facebook (11 November 2011): “Uthaya is a writer and social commentator in Malaysia. Worth reading (his blog) for Malaysian issues.”