Born in Malaysia, William Tham Wai Liang has published his first novel, Kings of Petalling Street (London: Buku Fixi 2017), about fate, death, and hope in crime-ridden Kuala Lumpur. It's inspired by Malaysia's most notorious and deadliest gangster, Wong Swee Chin, a.k.a. Botak Chin, as well as the author's childhood memory of seeing a man being shot in the head at dinner in a Cheras corner-shop. Dubbed the King of Petaling Street, a fictionalized mobster named Wong Kah Lok suffers from an existential crisis and hopes to repair his relationship with his estranged son, Gavin. Inspector Ramalingam and an opportunistic politician, Chancellor Zahid, are the other main characters. The foursome are all linked to a mysterious assassin, Maut (death, in Malay). "If I substituted the haze of Kuala Lumper with fog," says Tham, "it could have been the setting of a Raymond Chandler or Mario Puzo story."; Having travelled in Malaysia's Klang Valley and China's Jiangsu Province, Tham lived in the UK and Edmonton before settling in Vancouver where he wrote the novel and doubled as creative non-fiction editor of Ricepaper magazine. His short short stories and articles have appeared in Toronto-based Looseleaf and Malaysia's Calibre magazine and Buku Fixi. $17 9780995555808

[BCBW 2017]