How the Man in Green Saved Pahang, and Possibly the World
Winner of the 2020 Epigram Books Fiction Prize
Author: Joshua Kam
Publisher: Epigram Books
Paperback, 272 pages
When a renegade prophet vanishes in a cloud of pigeons in Kuala Lumpur, chorister and first witness Gabriel finds himself press-ganged into a wild road trip down the Malaysian coast. Meanwhile, in a sleepy town by the sea, Lydia traces the links between her late grandaunt’s eccentric lover and her involvement in the Communist Emergency. As Lydia and Gabriel enter a shadowy mythology of serpents, Sufi saints and plainclothes gods, they must grapple with the theologies and histories they once trusted, in a country more perilously punk than they’d ever conceived of.
“What a trip! This 21st-century adventure quest with an Islamic saint also brings us on a madcap tour through a multitude of Malaysian mythologies— Malay epics, Taoist pantheons, WW2/Emergency/Merdeka heroics, and more. Even more vitally, it gives us hope amidst the dire news of our era— political corruption, environmental devastation and bigotry—reassuring us that the human/divine spirit still flourishes in the late-capitalist tropics, and is ultimately destined to triumph over evil. An absolute delight, and truly, deliciously Malaysian.” —Ng Yi-Sheng, award-winning author of 'Lion City'
“Borgesian, even Manichean in spirit, with almost reverent borrowings from Nusantara mythologies to Abrahamic religiosity, this novel is a wild ride from start to finish, riffing on Malayan history, politics and folklore in a surprisingly redemptive arc, while remaining deeply interrogative about what it means to keep true to goodness in the ever-changing face of evil.” —Cyril Wong, two-time Singapore Literature Prize-winning author of 'This Side of Heaven'
About the author:
Joshua Kam Chun Wah grew up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, taking frequent trips with his father down the coastal state of Pahang. A history graduate of Hope College, Michigan, he’s developed a hunger for the mythology of place-names, rebel peasants, and sea gods his family inherited from generations by the water. Dividing his time between Malaysia and graduate school in Michigan, he interviews Nusantara mystics for a living, bakes when he can and drinks when he shouldn’t. 'How the Man in Green Saved Pahang, and Possibly the World' is his first novel.