Author of the Week: Marco Ferrarese

“Revolution is not made by wearing T-shirts with slogans…”

Book design of Nazi Goreng

In 2013, Monsoon Books was thrilled to publish Marco Ferrase’s eye-opening debut book, Nazi Goreng. Captivating and, at times, brutal, the book was well received by both critics and readers. However, in 2015, the Malaysian Government deemed the content inappropriate and banned bookstores in Malaysia from selling the book. Since then it has been an ongoing struggle to make the book accessible to those who demand it.

 

Monsoon is proud to offer the book as a DRM-free download across all territories in the English-speaking market. The author has been travelling recently after completing his PhD in Anthropology and Monsoon managed to catch up with him this month:

 

Monsoon: When you were writing Nazi Goreng, did you have any idea how controversial it would be?

 

Well, to tell you the truth, the final version is not as controversial as the original idea I had in mind. I had to tone it down in order to find someone eager to publish it.

 

Monsoon: The book has been described as “gritty but truthful”, how did you research the book?

 

A few years on the ground here, mingling with people, playing in a local band, making friends among the migrant worker groups, reading the newspaper, being amazed by the controversies of this nation. When I discovered the Malay Power, it was the cherry on top of the s**t cake that prompted me to write the book. I finished the first draft, a raw mess of unpolished prose, in about 60 days. It literally was waiting to drip off my fingers.

Monsoon: Have you experienced any personal feedback about the book? Is there a thirst for more?

 

Photograph of Marco FerrareseNazi Goreng is like India, you love it or hate it, and I received both kinds of feedbacks…. Sometimes from the most unexpected people. There may be a thirst for more and I do have an idea for a potential episode II, but I’m honestly not the kind of guy who likes to capitalize on the success of something he did in the past… I don’t think the world needs a part II. Unless readers will convince me that part 1 has really made them think differently, somehow …

 

Monsoon: Your book has been translated into Malay, how has that edition been received in the market?

 

I’m not sure as I had a disagreement with the publisher after they wanted to publish a cover with a swastika after we agreed on something totally different. This is another indication of how some Malaysians think upside down.

 

Monsoon: What have you been working on since the book’s release?

 

Besides having submitted a PhD in anthropology investigating the relationship between pre-existing ethnic identity, globalization and extreme music performance in Malaysia, I have become a full time freelance writer specializing in Southeast Asian travel and culture. I write many articles for many publications and spend my time travelling, which is what I was doing before the novel. My first collection of travel stories will come out later this year on Gerak Budaya.

 

I also wrote a Malaysian metal-punk memoir, Banana Punk Rawk Trails, published by SIRD in 2015. I have a semi-finished second novel tentatively titled Apocalypse Lu that needs some serious beating to come into shape, and have ideas for two more. The problem is each day has only 24 hours, and I tend to sleep for 7.

 

Monsoon: For new readers to books on Southeast Asia, what are the key titles that you turn to?

 

Bangkok 8Bangkok8 by John Burdett describes Bangkok and Thai culture pretty well. Off the Rails in Phnom Penh: Into the Dark Heart of Guns, Girls, and Ganja by Amit Gilboa is an obscure forgotten classic that’s probably too gritty to be true, but was quite an entertaining, shocking read. Also, not entirely Southeast Asia-based but very much worth reading to understand the incredibly strong effect of Western globalization to the region is the evergreen Video Night in Kathmandu by Pico Iyer.

 

Thanks Marco! We will be publishing the second part of this interview later in the week. For further information and background details about the book, such as this reading from the book, please visit the Nazi Goreng Facebook page.