Title: Made in Malaysia: Stories of Hometown Heroes and Hidden Gems
Author: Alexandra Wong
Price: Generally around RM32.90
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
TL;DR: Take a moment to breathe and smile.
Disclaimer: I know the author personally but she did not ask me to write this review.
The thing about picking up non-fiction Malaysian books is that I often have very little faith in their content. I am also uncomfortable with the vast majority of them, if only because they seem to be mainly feel good or deliberately inflammatory.
So I was a little jaded, perhaps, when Made in Malaysia reached my hands. And as it turned out, this was what I needed.
From tales of getting lost and finding friendly faces, to talks with a train driver to a magical Sarawak visit, Alex imbues her stories with curiosity and wonder. You’ll probably find yourself giggling and laughing as you read them.
What really struck me though, was the quiet dignity and respect she treats her interviewees with.
There’s Lipu, the Lady of the Longhouse who inspires. There’s impromptu interviews with bus ticket collectors and taxi drivers, who exhibit their own quiet pride in their occupation. Then there’s the one about the railway driver, Azmi who gives her one of the best pieces of advice to have in life.
And there’s the one called “She’s all heart.”
This is the story that touched me the most. That still moves me to tears even after all this while.
It is, in my opinion, the most important story in the book.
Not just because I believe in organ donation.
Not just because I think Dr Lela’s story should be told.
But because the way Alex tells Dr Lela’s story pays tribute to the grieving families who choose to donate their loved ones’ body so someone else could live. They are not nameless corpses who may have passed on in accidents, but human beings who were loved, adored, and cared while they were alive.
And thanks to their donations, other families can continue to enjoy the same.
You could, I suppose, read most of her stories online (a large majority of the stories in this book WAS taken from her Navel Gazer column).
I think though, that it would be better to buy the book. As a reminder of what being a human and perhaps secondarily, a Malaysian, is all about.
Who knows? You might discover your own Hometown Hero.