The House of Doors: Tan Twan Eng in Conversation with Karina Robles Bahrin
Booker Prize-shortlisted Tan Twan Eng returns home to Penang to discuss his first novel in more than a decade with the award-winning novelist Karina Robles Bahrin. Mainly set in Penang in 1921, love and betrayal and the tensions between the public and the private lie at the heart of The House of Doors. Driven by the narrative of a very finely drawn character, Lesley Hamlyn, the story brings together the lives of three contrasting historical personalities: the celebrated English writer W. Somerset Maugham; the renowned Chinese revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen; and Ethel Proudlock, condemned to hang for murder. Beautifully detailed and drawing out a range of compelling themes – patriarchy, political turmoil, concealed sexuality, illicit love affairs – The House of Doors is a superb story of many layers. The event features readings from the novel by Marina Tan, Gareth Richards and Aoife Sacker Ooi.
About the Speakers
Tan Twan Eng was born in Penang, Malaysia. His debut novel The Gift of Rain was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2007 and has been widely translated. The Garden of Evening Mists won the Man Asian Literary Prize 2012 and the 2013 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012 and the 2014 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. The House of Doors (Canongate) is his third novel and has been received with great critical acclaim.
Karina Robles Bahrin got her first break as a writer when she guest edited a weekly column in the New Straits Times. Her short fiction has been published in Urban Odysseys: KL Stories (2009), Malaysian Tales: Retold and Remixed (2011), A Subtle Degree of Restraint and Other Stories (2013) and KL Noir: Blue (2014). Her debut novel, The Accidental Malay, won the 2022 Epigram Books Fiction Prize.
About the Narrators
Marina Tan is a multilingual actor, director, writer and workshop facilitator. A member of the Voice Guild Malaysia, she has numerous voiceover, theatre, on-screen and motion-capture acting credits.
Gareth Richards is a writer, editor and bookseller. He is the founding director of Impress Creative and Editorial, the owner of Gerakbudaya Bookshop Penang, and co-founded the arts space Hikayat.
Aoife Sacker Ooi is an editor, short-story writer and poet, and is currently studying at SOAS, University of London.