7 Jun 2023

Intriguing Short Stories

Author Uthaya Sankar SB is coming up with a ‘transcreation’ book, consisting of a collection of short stories, from Bahasa Malaysia to English. S. TAMARAI CHELVI has the story.


INSPIRED by his late mother’s Indian folktales, Uthaya Sankar SB became a writer. He used to listen to her stories when he was a child, and as he grew up, his passion for the art of telling stories deepened further.

“I used to write poems, stories, and essays in Bahasa Malaysia, English, and Tamil while I was studying at SM Darul Ridwan, Taiping. My friends and teachers loved them, and my articles were published in the school magazines,” he said.

“In 1992, I started sending my manuscripts to Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), and the rest is history.”

Born in Taiping, Perak, Uthaya completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Malaya. Since 1992, Uthaya has authored more than 25 books and explored topics such as language, culture, literature, politics, and religion.

Among his works are Orang Dimensi (1994), Munis dengan Harimau (1996), Yang Aneh-Aneh (1997), Surat Dari Madras (1999), Suvarna Bhumi (2022) and Katha Sarit Sagara (2023).

Some of his writing has been translated into English, Tamil, Mandarin, and German, and he has been awarded Hadiah Sastera Siswa-Bank Rakyat, Hadiah Cerpen Maybank-DBP, and other awards throughout his career.

Uthaya formerly worked with Radio Televisyen Malaysia as an editor for Bahasa Malaysia TV News and content editor for Bahasa Malaysia News at Radio24 in 2008 and is currently the founder and president of Kumpulan Sasterawan Kavyan (Kavyan), which conducts language, literature, arts, and cultural activities.

Recently, Uthaya decided to “transcreate” a book containing short stories into English.

The decision to transcreate was made after realising that not many Malaysians and non-Malaysians have been able to fully enjoy and appreciate his writings.

The book titled The Painted Cat consists of 10 short stories, including four which he transcreated and its expected to be released in July 2023. Here, we communicated with Uthaya Sankar via email about his new book.

Tell us about the new book, which is expected to release in July 2023.

“It’s a collection of 10 short stories originally published in Bahasa Malaysia. My friends came forward to choose their favourite story to transcreate. I gave them the liberty to not just merely translate but to transcreate and make amendments when needed. I love the outcome because the transcreations stay true to the soul of my original stories.”

What motivated you to ‘transcreate’ in English?

“Since 1993, people have been asking me to write in English. I do write essays and journal articles in English, but not fiction. Friends from outside of Malaysia have listened to me read my stories in Bahasa Malaysia at various events and are eager to be able to read them in English.”

What do you want the readers to take away after reading the book?

“Most people find Malay literature to be very dry and boring. They should know that my stories are different and enjoyable. I hope this book will also make people interested in stories by my fellow Indian authors who write in Bahasa Malaysia.”

What can readers expect from this book?

“Readers will get a chance to read some of my award-winning stories. My stories usually have twists that keep readers engaged. Indian culture is highlighted positively and prominently. Myth, culture, history, and imagination all come together in this book.”

Why is this book meaningful to you?

“I have published more than 20 books in Bahasa Malaysia since 1994. The Painted Cat is my very first book in English. Non-Malaysians will be able to appreciate my stories, and that is something meaningful. Perhaps it’s about time to go international.”

[The interview was conducted by S. Tamarai Chelvi via e-mail on 17 May 2023. This piece was published in The Sun Daily on 6 June 2023.]

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Sila gunakan Bahasa Malaysia atau Bahasa Inggeris yang betul apabila mengemukakan komen. Hanya komen yang menggunakan bahasa yang betul dari segi ejaan, tanda baca dan struktur ayat akan dilayan. Pencemaran bahasa diharamkan!