First up, let me explain the title. Selumbar is the Malay word for wood splinter and the novel is so called due to an analogy by one of the characters, likening his life to his feet being pierced deep with a Selumbar. If he pulls it out, he will suffer great pain, and yet leaving it in would only cause the wound to fester and hinder his walking forward.
An innocent encounter between the main character, a much loved and respected modern day ustaz, Razin and a supposed stranger in Razin’s village, Sufi, kickstarts the drama. What unfolds will afflict both their lives in ways neither can expect nor control.
Razin will soon regret their path crossing as the pages unravel into heavy themes surrounding Islam, homophobia, filial piety and brotherly love among mankind.
The book – published by Rumah Lipur Lara – raises philosophical perspectives on homosexuality based on Muslim teachings, with oft quoted local sentiments about Islam such as the “easiness” of the religion for its practitioners and the almighty mercy of Allah.
These are juxtaposed with the homosexual character in the book trying to come to terms with his identity by seeking counsel from contrasting religious interpretations worldwide.
The book also tackles the universal quandary of the LGBTQ individuals, who are usually subjected to societal villification and family rejection, mainly due to the notion that homosexuality is disgraceful and sinful, without any separation of the people from the act.
With all that said, we must bear in mind that this is a work of fiction and anyone seeking religious guidance should look for proper sources instead of this bold and beautiful Malay drama novel.
The “scandalous” plot is gripping and definitely refreshing when compared to the mainstream plots usually available in the Malay novel book racks.
Good enough for a thoughtful train commute to shrink the hours, me thinks.
“Selumbar” is the second novel by writer, Ikmal Ahmad, who also wrote “Velvet”. The book is available for purchase in Kedai Fixi in Petaling Jaya. Additionally, it can also be purchased online. If you are a publisher and want us to review a book, drop us an email to [email protected]