Outstanding Malaysian welcome for “Diasporic Distractions”

Dr. Mohamed Keshavjee (R) with Matthew Thomas (L)
Dr. Mohamed Keshavjee (R) with Matthew Thomas (L) Photo credit: Parvaiz Machiwala

Well known Malaysian short story writer and novelist, Matthew Thomas, launched Mohamed Keshavjee’s latest book of short stories entitled “Diasporic Distractions” at the University of Malaya’s Perdana Hall on Saturday 7th October 2017. Speaking to an audience made up of over 150 people including leading writers, artists , lawyers and book lovers, Thomas echoed what Joseph Conrad had said about W.H.Hudson’s book “Far Away and Long Ago”. “Keshavjee” he said, “writes like the grass grows” implying that his prose flows effortlessly, while his short stories “entertain, inform, amuse and educate”

Leading Malaysian business Tycoon Datuk Wira Ameer Ali Mydin CEO of Mydin one of Malaysia’s largest retail outlet chains visits Siverfish Books in Bangsar Village to get his copy of Diasporic Distractions
“I couldn’t resist it” he said Photo: Ameer Ali Mydin

“Diasporic Distractions “which was positively reviewed by one of Malaysia’s leading opinion- making publications, Malaysiakini, has found ready resonance with the Malaysian Indian Diaspora which constitutes some 1.3 million people. Thaya Paran, respected commentator noted, “he [Keshavjee] writes more like the Indian novelist RK Narayan-viewing the diaspora from within, rather than like V.S Naipaul who sees things from afar with a disdainful sense of self- detachment”.

The book was also launched in Penang on October 9th by world renowned consumer- rights advocate and cosmopolite, Anwar Fazal, winner of the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize. “The book is of appeal to everyone,” said Fazal, “It captures the experiences of all immigrants wherever they live in the world”. Fazal, earlier that day, presided over a lecture at the Penang Institute , an important think tank, where DR Keshavjee spoke on “Cosmopolitan Ethics in a Globalized World “ attended by the Director of the Institute Dr Ooi and over a hundred guests comprising leading academics, policy planners, administrators and members of civil society.

Anwar Fazal and Mohamed keshavjee outside the Arab House in Penang which is being restored with support from the AKTC
Anwar Fazal and Mohamed Keshavjee outside the Arab House in Penang which is being restored with support from the AKTC Photo: Anwar Fazal

Speaking of the need to embrace pluralism today, Dr Keshavjee noted that “Penang is a classic example of pluralism at its best. Your trees are from so many parts of the world and each one is individually marked and lives in close harmony with other trees. Your food is so global and in less than 24 hours I have come across such a diversity of people from so many parts of the world all moving with such confidence with regard to their individual identity which they combine harmoniously with their shared identity with others among whom they live”

Anwar Fazal and Mohamed Keshavjee with Soka gakai representatives Photo: Anwar Fazal

During his short visit to the city, Dr Keshavjee addressed a joint meeting of the Penang Gandhi Centre and the Soka Gakai International founded by the Japanese philosopher and social activist Dr Daisaku Ikeda a follower of Gandhi’s philosophy, visited the Penang Park which was restored with support from the AKTC, and met the Director of the University of Malaya’s Centre for Policy Research and International Studies, Professor Azeem Ahmad Farouk to discuss the possibility of future seminars focusing on rapid globalization and the issues arising from it.

“Diasporic Distractions” will have its North American launch in Toronto, Canada at the end of May 2018 under the auspices of Khojawiki the sole distributer of the book in North America. This is due to be followed by a UK launch of the book in the autumn of 2018.



Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

2 thoughts

  1. Yes, it was a magnificent turnout for the evening. I was there personally for the launch and witnessed a memorable evening MC’d by the writer’s wife’s Beautiful niece and ‘hum-naam’ Aminah and launched by the writer’s Law School buddy Mathew Thomas. The event was attended by a mass of educated, skilled and wonderful people like Professor Emiratus, Dr Das and his lovely wife Dr Ambika as well as other fellow professionals from the writer’s fraternity and those from the medical profession and academic background. Business men and traders whose forefathers were part of the diasporic community in the Fareast were there to titilate on the nuendos of the book and the scribe whose sense of humour is not unknown to the Khoja community as well as the community at large that has had the good fortune of meeting and visiting with Mohamed in the flesh very often sent home in stitches as his tales tend to have his audience folding in laughter especially when he narrates about his experience witnessing his mother and her contemporaries who took on the attire changes that Ismaili women in Africa adopted after the ‘firman’ of Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah, Aga Khan III, their then spiritual leader and grandfather to the current ‘Murshid’ Aga Khan IV, Shah Karim Al-Husseini.

    Incidentally, the store visited by Business tycoon Datuk Veera Dr Ameer Ali Mydin in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur is called Silverfish which published both Mohamed Keshavji’s and Thomas Mathew’s novel Ankara House.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.