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”
“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.
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”
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.