Thursday, July 4, 2013

Golda Mowe's Iban Dream



A unique work of fantasy fiction based on real beliefs, taboos and terminology of the Iban to weave an epic tale of good versus evil.

The book reads like a fairy tale; descriptive and lacking the intimacy of dialogues. However, I think this is an appropriate tone for a book that targets a younger audience. And yet, the richness of cultural and mythical description keeps a curious adult interested in the book. The story unfolds quickly and I feel that a lot happened in a book that is a few counts shy of 300 pages.

I love finding out about the Iban beliefs, presented in a folklore / legend / myth. I can't help but wish I can be more personally attached to the hero, Bujang Maias, via a more fiction-styled writing. Some parts of the writing did veer towards humanising the characters more and you get a touch of realism in the characters but then the author starts to describe the details of rituals and rites and actions in a somewhat dry manner that washed away the intimacy a reader was beginning to get.

For a fan of myths and culture, I still enjoy the information the book is saturated in but I am not sure people who expect to read a fantasy-fiction would be so entertained by the somewhat dryness of the retelling of this Iban legend.

By the end of the book, I am raring to find out more about the culture and beliefs of our Borneo part of Malaysia but there lacks for me the bitter-sweet end of a literary journey with a hero.

I am, however, duly afraid of Hornbills after reading the book.

1 comment:

Golda Mowe said...

Thanks for your comments, Xeem. The dialogue part was a huge problem for me initially because Bujang had to do a lot of traveling alone. Hence, his ability to talk with animals. Ibans also believe in the power of words, so most conversation is in the form of an exchange of information - the young couple is equal in skill and knowledge, or his field is full of weeds. Opinions are generally used to bless (They will be happy to old age) or to curse (His harvest will fail). That is the reason why I don't have pro and con dialogues because that is against their nature. (Modern Ibans are different because school has taught them the Socratic method of discussion). I guess I may never find that right balance. I really do appreciate your critique. It was well thought out and constructive.