• Jonathan Shiek

Malaysian Writer Ling Low Writes Her Way To Glory

The shortlist for this year’s Commonwealth Short Story Prize was recently announced, and a writer from Malaysia has been listed in it, much to her own amazement as well as Malaysians everywhere.

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Ling Low said, “I was stunned when I got the email saying I had been shortlisted. I have followed the prize for several years and I know it gets a huge number of entries. It is humbling and rewarding to know that my short story was read by jury members around the world, and that together they found it meaningful enough to include it on the shortlist, ”

Her short story titled ‘Weeds’, which was written during the first movement control order (MCO) in Malaysia last year, follows the story of a retired and rich old man who absolutely loathes the idea of being constrained to his condominium. Therefore, he grows increasingly obsessed with watching the gardeners and groundskeepers as he is envious of them, because they are allowed outside.

In all honesty, this synopsis does not do the story any justice at all. If you are inclined to read Low’s short story in its entirety, you may do so in adda, which is the online magazine of Commonwealth Writers, which features new writing from around the world once it has been published.

This isn’t her first writing accolade however, as the 34-year-old writer was also a runner-up for the DK Dutt Memorial Award For Literary Excellence in 2016.

When asked about her passion for writing, Low had this to say, “In real life, we are often only afforded glimpses into each other’s lives. Similarly, the short story form can plunge us deeply into a moment, but then it passes. In my writing, I try to create a world that is vivid enough that you feel the characters will continue to live after the story ends. In ‘Weeds’, I was pleased that I could convey the sense of a situation escalating slowly but palpably, in a short space of time.”

Credits: The Malay Mail

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is administered by the Commonwealth Foundation, through its cultural initiative Commonwealth Writers. The five regional winners (Asia, Africa, Canada, Europe, Caribbean, and the Pacific) will be announced on 12 May, and the overall winner on 30 June. Regional winners will receive £2,500 (RM14,200) and the overall winner, £5,000 (RM28,400).

Well, I certainly hope Low is unanimously declared the overall winner and I wish her all the best!



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