Fixi Novo is the English-language imprint of the commercially successful independent Malaysian publisher Buku Fixi, and has been regularly publishing novels and short story anthologies in English by local writers since 2013. All Fixi Novo books are contemporary urban fiction that cover the noir, horror and speculative fiction genres, have stylish and distinctive cover designs, and are very affordable compared to the price of imported fiction.
If you want to dip your toe into the world of Malaysian English-language fiction, I thoroughly recommend checking out these titles.
1. KL Noir
The KL Noir series has four volumes: Red, White, Blue and Yellow. Basically the four colours of the Malaysian flag. Each volume features a varied collection of stories that look at the seedier, dark side of the Malaysian capital. Themes touch on murder, drugs, corruption, prostitution, kidnapping and much more sleaze and depravity. As with most anthologies, not all stories reach the same heights, but the hits by far outweigh the misses. Read, enjoy and see KL with a new pair of eyes.
2. Devil’s Place by Brian Gomez
A 2013 republication of a novel that first appeared in 2008, Brian Gomez’s Devil’s Place is superb thriller that will keep you hooked. Set in Kuala Lumpur and is centred around musician Terry Fernandez, whose stag night doesn’t go to plan with the consequence that he ends up on the run. The novel has a colourful cast of characters including a Thai prostitute, a terrorist, corrupt politicians, a paranoid taxi driver, a journalist determined to get hos scoop, inept cops and a pimp named Fellatio Lim, plus US$18 million. This all makes for a fast-paced thriller laced with insight and humour. Masterful.
3. Tropical Madness by Marc de Faoite
Marc de Faoite is an Irish national who has made the island of Langkawi his home. His collection of short stories, Tropical Madness, features 18 tales set across modern-day Malaysia in both urban and rural settings. Many of the stories hone in on some of the characters at the edges Malaysian society: immigrants, transsexuals, ethnic minorities, sex slaves, fishermen, etc. Each are portrayed with empathy and the stories seem to capture the mood of Malaysian life really well.
4. Love In Penang
Love In Penang features 18 short stories set in or around the island known as the Pearl of the Orient with a general them of love, without slipping into the romance genre. Stories particularly worthy of a mention include Amah’s Bicycle, by Julia Oui, Oil On Canvas by Eileen Lee, Oh, Snap! by Mamu Vies, Majestic Heights by Marc de Faoite and Love Letters by Lean Ka-Min. A decent anthology that nicely evokes the mood of Penang.
5. Soulless by Rozlan Mohd Noor
The latest installment in the Inspector Mislan series, and the first published by Fixi Novo, Soulless sees the maverick detective involved in one of his most challenging cases to date. Mislan and his partner are assigned to investigate the sadistic killing of a young woman found abandoned in an alley off Jalan Alor in Kuala Lumpur. As the investigation progresses, they uncover a connection to a network of very well-connected individuals determined to hide their shady activities at any cost.
6. Dark City by Xeus
Originally published in 2006 as Dark City: Psychotic and Other Twisted Malaysian Tales, Fixi Novo republished Xeus’ collection of stories in 2017. It features a dozen macabre tales full of deception and unusual twists. Psychotic, The Maid, One If By Land and Trashcan Child deserve a mention, but the whole collection is strong. Not for the fainthearted, however.
7. Dog Pound by Mamu Vies
Dog Pound takes a look at the shady world of underground boxing. Azory is down on his luck and gets introduced to Dog Pound, the underground bare-knuckle boxing circuit in the southern part of peninsular Malaysia. He soon finds himself a rising star, but things go awry when his opponent in a big fight mysteriously dies in the ring. From this point on Roy is on the run trying to save his skin, unsure of who his friends and foes really are. A fast-paced, fun novel that doesn’t pull any punches.
8. Lost in Putrajaya
Fourteen stories with both the landscape and bureaucratic halls of power administrative capital as a backdrop, Lost In Putrajaya contains a variety of different tales. High points include Green Onions by Marc de Faoite, Broken Kaleidoscope by Timothy Nakayama, Marco Ferrarase’s Lost Highway and The Ministry of Sun and Storms by Terence Toh, which is hilarious.
What are you Fixi Novo favourites? Leave your comments below.