Khalid Arshad lives in retirement with his wife Azizah in a suburb of George Town, Penang. He has had a disappointing career in the civil service, the result both of adverse circumstances at work and of innocent missteps on his own part. Having initially enjoyed retired life he begins to show symptoms of boredom until he runs into Bala, a friend from his schooldays, who introduces him to the joys of reading. In the course of his regular trips into town in search of second-hand books, he begins to discover aspects of his native city that had previously remained hidden from him.
Although the story is about the life of one individual, it also shows how easily a country's politics, administration and culture can change within a single lifetime. The events and characters that we encounter may not have required any particular setting to be brought to life, but the fabric on which the narrative is woven makes this a distinctively Malaysian novel.
Adam Said was born and brought up in Penang and spent most of his life working as a civil servant. Now retired, The Pensioner is his first novel.