Testimonial: Richard Lord

I started working with Nanny Eliana on her first novel in August 2011. My work mainly involved guidance and advice, often in the form of questions I would ask about characters, plot or choices Nanny had made.

I have been doing such freelance editing for several years after serving as managing editor of Monsoon Books (Singapore) in 2008. I have done similar work on many works of fiction during that time, and I would say that Nanny Eliana’s novel WRONG TURN, RIGHT PLACE is one of the more promising works I’ve been involved with.

Some of the virtues are immediately obvious: the writing is solid, with fully realised and believable characters, enticing settings (Singapore, different regions of Malaysia and the “tropical paradise” of Bali) along with an enticing, well-structured plot. But what I find most appealing about this novel, from a publishing standpoint, is that it presents a portrait of a time and place that we rarely if ever see in literature: the roiling social landscapes of Singapore and Malaysia of the early 90s. I have lived in this region for just over a decade now, and I learned many things about these two countries that were new and eye-opening for me.

In WRONG TURN, RIGHT PLACE, we are offered a compelling portrait of the burgeoning rock scene in Malaysia in that period, replete with all the excesses and ecstasies of the scene. We’re also treated to a convincing look at the hectic pace and petty politics of magazine publishing in Southeast Asia in that period as well as the glitzy world of Asian fashion photography with all its own strain of excesses. Also woven into the narrative is an interesting examination of the complex relationships between fathers and their children, especially the limits and problems in such relationships. Whether it be the relationship between the central character Salina and her widower father or the troubled Malay rock star Awi and his father, these stories help define and illuminate the central story.

It’s a story with depth, texture, plot twists and surprises. This a novel that any serious publisher should take a close look at. Today, when more and more readers of books are showing increased interest in other parts of the world, especially dynamic Asia, this is a work that many serious publishing houses should consider adding to its catalogue.

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– Richard Lord, book editor and former commissioning editor for Monsoon Publishing Singapore

Testimonial: Fran Rittman

I am a literary agent and strong advocate of Nanny Eliana. I left Writers House in New York to move to Asia where I’ve lived for 15 years.

And in that time of searching high and low, I have very few local writers that I know will travel abroad with the sort of fanfare I feel I can get behind. Nanny’s own life experiences puts her in the position to incredibly weave the shocking and arcane, the traditional and beloved aspects of the Muslim world.  You’d be hard pressed to find another Muslim novelist in South East Asia much less one with such a lustrous, confident voice with the story to convey these dichotomies.

– Fran Rittman, literary agent

Testimonial: Chris Mooney Singh

chris singhNanny Eliana’s WRONG TURN, RIGHT PLACE is a welcome addition to the sparse field of Singapore fiction, especially with to its contemporary Malay perspective and sharp perception of human relationships experienced in a fast-paced Asian metropolis where East and West intersect. She writes with a sparse lyricism that is refreshingly honest and an intelligence unafraid to confront social and sexual mores even in a conservative Asian setting.

– Chris Mooney Singh, published novelist and poet

Testimonial: Aaron Lee

The work is of a high literary quality. The novel is coherent, and with an engaging plot. It is peopled with authentically-drawn (sometimes in a few lines), yet unconventional characters. The inner life of each of the main characters is convincingly portrayed. The setting and the subject matter, portraying the modern way of life in multi-cultural South East Asia, is explored unflinchingly. The narration is not merely descriptive, but the writer uses metaphor and other techniques to get into the true relevance of what is seen or encountered. There are some “dream sequences” in the story that allow the author to display inventiveness of approach.

The story is thought-provoking because the author is not content to merely describe the surface of people and events. The (few) scenes of sexual intimacy in the novel are written very well, without salaciousness and without exploitation. The key characters are not mere foils to one another; rather, they all have interesting and deftly drawn personal histories. The narrator figure is complex, real, and on a journey of self-discovery.

The originality of this work is in its portrayal of how post-modernity has not left the 21st century Malay community untouched. The complex dynamics of personal faith, capitalism, travel and restlessness, morality, pleasure and pain, art and spirituality, the use and abuse of power and money, are all deftly explored in the richly-woven tapestry of this epic novel. aaron-may2012small

– Aaron Lee, editor and practising lawyer