04 Feb Book Launch: “Betwixt & Between” by Woo Kam Chau
It took some four years after the demise of Dr. Woo Kam Chau before his book saw the light of day. And the launch, held at Artemis Art, was theÂ fulfilmentÂ of a promise made to him by his widow, to get his book published.
And that promise was finally fulfilled on February 4th, 2012, when “Betwixt & Between” was launched at our gallery by the writer’s widow Mrs Patricia Woo.
“Betwixt & Between” is a novel set in the mid-1950s at a time when the British administration was preparing to hand Malaya over to its local population. The story centers around the protagonist, Qin, and his friends, and gives us a glimpse of the prevailing social conditions where immigrant Chinese and Indians lived and worked “betwixt and between” the indigenous Malay population.
Present at the launch were the author’s widow, and the man who was instrumental in getting the book published, the author’s school friend, Mr. Ken Fong. Ken spoke at the launch, providing the attendees an insight into what it took to publish the book.
Despite the many difficulties he faced, Ken was determined that Dr. Woo’s dying wish would be fulfilled, and stated that he believes that it was the spirit of the author himself that paved the way, helping Ken overcome the many hurdles along the way.
According to Ken, the manuscript for the book was initially given to an Australian publisher, who thought that although the manuscript was good to go, it would not have a very wide market in Australia. It would be better, the publisher added, if the book were to be published in Malaysia, where the late Dr. Woo originally came from.
It was based on this that Ken brought the manuscript back to Malaysia to be published. “Betwixt and Between” would have been published much earlier, had it not been for the first publisher Ken approached, who decided against publishing the book. The publisher felt that the book contained parts that were “too controversial” for print.
Through the help of Sharon Bakar, well-known Malaysian literary activist, Ken connected with Gerakbudaya, the publisher that eventually produced the book. Anthony Lam, Publications Officer at Gerakbudaya, also spoke at the launch. According to Anthony, Gerakbudaya saw that the book provided a good alternative glimpse of society during the period, and that they saw nothing too provocative or controversial about “Betwixt & Between”.
Sharon, who also attended the launched, expressed her delight that the book finally managed to get published. In her opinion, Malaysia needs more books published, and acknowledged the important role that Gerakbudaya played in this respect.
“Betwixt & Between” will be available in major Malaysian book stores very soon.
More pictures covering the launch can be viewed at Artemis Art’s Facebook page.