At some point on my way to this, I missed a turning. I was walking from Blackfriars station along Queen Victoria Street and needed to hang left onto Bread Street to hit Cheapside, but I was obviously preoccupied. Before I knew it, I was standing below the Bank of England, the Royal Exchange beside it in all its neo-classical glory, the Gherkin and Cheesegrater looming beyond in a rising sea of glass-fronted office blocks. It was strange to think that a few minutes later I would be in a cosy bookshop with wooden floors – Daunt’s of Marylebone’s smaller outpost in the City – waiting for the launch of Fixi Novo’s first UK publication.
Which is not to belittle the event, because it was one of my favourites ever. It felt very relaxed, helped along by the good humour of founder @amirmu – who quipped, after a slightly delayed start, that if the launch had been run by Singaporeans it would already be over. There was fizzy wine with no-nonsense nibbles provided by @mangolisa, celebrated for being the first woman ever to take a trolley out of the local Tesco, and a crowd that proved a perfect fit for the space.
Rather than messing around with publishing a lone anthology, Fixi Novo – the English-language imprint of Malaysian publishing house Buku Fixi – has seen fit to publish three. They’re strikingly named (apparently after the trilogy of films produced by Andy Warhol in collaboration with filmmaker Paul Morrissey, which in my ignorance I’d never heard of) and include contributions, primarily fiction but with some non-fiction, from writers from across Southeast Asia. They’re beautifully packaged, too, with illustrations of durian (again, new to me) in various states of undress to match the titles.
There were a range of contributing editors and writers present, some in London for the first time for the event. The editors’ speeches were a highlight. They spoke about the difficulty of deciding what to include in each volume (Flesh, apparently, received around 170 submissions), picked out a couple of their favourite pieces, and defended the policy of not italicising words that weren’t English (see this piece, on a related note). One of the writers spoke about her contribution and what had inspired it, and there was a short reading from one of the more “visceral” offerings in Flesh. The only downside was that no-one was there to represent Trash!
The more formal part of the event wrapped up there and we were left to mingle. This was a privilege, considering how many interesting people seemed to be around – including OurStories contributors @mailbykite (see her recommendation here) and @zenaldehyde (and hers here). I picked up a copy of Flesh, Rhianna a copy of Heat, and we’ll get back to you with thoughts on both at a later date. In the meantime, if you’re interested in buying a copy of any of the anthologies, hit up the Buku Fixi website. Or, if you’re in London, Daunt Books Cheapside and Rough Trade East both stock them.
Written by @lewisalloyd.
For more features, events and book recommendations, follow @ourstoriesbooks!