More new writers needed to avoid ‘literary vacuum’

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BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

EIGHT local writers will soon have their work published, as the director of the Language and Literature Bureau (DBP) appealed for more literary criticism and supplementary education books to be produced.

There were a total of 70 books published throughout 2013, Hjh Aminah Hj Momin said at a ceremony marking the first signing of Memoranda of Agreement (MoAs) with writers for this year.

This did not include journals and magazines produced in-house.

Sixty of the books were new publications comprising general, scholarly, literature, recipe and children’s books.

Hjh Aminah said that the DBP published a minimum of 60 to 70 books annually, but the bureau has previously set a target of publishing 100 books per year. However, she conceded that this figure, particularly for scholarly and general books, was “difficult to achieve”.

The DBP director explained that there were a number of factors that publishers had to consider, since they had to shoulder the risks such as return on investment.

She pointed out that quality work was needed to achieve the National Vision 2035 goal of an informed society for Brunei. Therefore books had a role to play as a source of guidance and alternative education, she said.

The types of books required, she continued, were biographies or memoirs of community figures; Islamic development and philosophies related to the country’s development; progress and achievements in strategic fields such as health, agriculture, fisheries and food safety, as well as biological research on forestry and “culture encyclopaedia”.

Hjh Aminah added there was a shortage of literary criticism to advance the work of local writers.

Therefore, she called on relevant academics such as secondary school literature teachers to write reviews and studies on works such as those by the recipients of the SEA Write Awards.

She also “challenged” talented writers to produce novels that were of “quality and popular, (written in) language that is easy to understand”, like those seen abroad, which have been adapted into movies or television series.

“We need new writers who are prolific, to fill the void of established writers (once they retire) so that there will not be a literary vacuum in the future,” the DBP director said.

The MoAs signed yesterday at the International Convention Centre involved 10 books for publication.

The agreements signed between the writers and DBP hoped to maintain the interests of both parties with conditions laid out. These included writers being the copyright-holders of their work, the writer bonded to the agreement with the DBP and they were prohibited from publishing their book(s) through other publishers and the publishers’ right to modify and design the book.

Under this agreement, the publisher will also bear all expenses involved with the publication process of the books.

Mohd Redzuan Hj Jamaeh, author and illustrator of the popular local comic series, Zoy Topeng Sakti (Zoy with the Powerful Mask) told The Brunei Times that the DBP has helped him publish and sell his creation, a feat tougher to achieve through other publishers due to the extensive terms and conditions set out.

DBP had published his first two series of the comic in 2011 and has now agreed to publish the third and fourth.

In 2011 and 2013, Mohd Redzuan was recognised for producing Brunei’s best-selling comics and he claimed that his first two comics have been archived at the Kyoto International Manga Musem in Japan.

He encouraged for local comic writers to produce more work.

The artist also shared that his series was far from completion.

“The series will be ongoing till I find a suitable ending. Fans will have to wait and purchase future series to find out.”

The Brunei Times