Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and fifty-eighth, is of David Anthony.
Dave Anthony is a Malaysian of Indian origin, born in Malaysia, studied in Malaysia, India and Australia. As a Catholic priest for 21 years his pastoral experience has been primarily with the poor Indian rubber plantation workers. Trained in television production and journalism in Ireland he was editor and publisher of a nation-wide Catholic Church magazine for 15 years and the Director of a Communication Centre and a Production House doing video productions such as corporate documentaries and docudramas. As the coordinator of “Men’s Action Network to stop Violence against Women” he has conducted seminars, workshops and training programmes on this issue and on “Child Sexual Abuse”. Having conducted programmes for the training of trainers on the topic there is now a network of young people capable of conducting similar trainings.
From having been a freelance writer and member of the Association of Freelance Writers, Sevendale House, Manchester, England, he has been writing to newspapers and magazines on social issues. He is now a published novelist.
He lives in Malaysia with his wife and two sons.
And now from the author himself:
My first publication was a training manual for young people entitled “Working to End Violence against Women” commissioned and published by the United Nations (UNFPA).
The Church in Malaysia caters for the English, Chinese, Tamil and Malay-speaking followers. The Tamil speaking people are the Indians most of whom work in the plantations. As a Redemptorist religious priest I would be invited by the parishes to conduct missions of faith renewal. As a Tamil speaking priest I have travelled through the length and breadth of the country over 12 years visiting the plantations. I communicate not only to the Catholics but to all the workers and their families who are mostly Hindus not to convert them but to get to know them and their problems. They live in poor and cramped conditions. I drive my van into the estate and sleep in it with the mosquitoes. I have grown to deeply understand the hardships they face particularly low wages.
I began writing this story as a film script on the plantation workers’ wage issue which started with the first sapling of the rubber plant and until today a minimum wage remains unresolved. The story of the plantation worker is a never-ending saga. The script spanned over many generations when I decided to cut the fabric of that script and stitch it into a novel for easy reading. It is a historical novel set in the period between pre and post World War II (1936 – 1948) and the setting is the rubber plantations in Malaya. The protagonist, a recruited labourer from India, leads the struggle of the workers through the oppressive machinations of the planters and the governments under British, Japanese and again British control.
Despite his romance and marriage he is separated by the urge to fight for justice. His partner and companions are entangled through betrayals and the struggle and again torn apart by war.
Surviving the Burma Death Railway he and his companion join the Malayan Peoples’ Anti Japanese Army and the Communist Party of Malaya while his wife joins the opposing Indian National Army.
Through a relentless pursuit in search of each other Desa and Janeki, the two main characters finally find each other.
I am already writing a sequel to the novel. I am also working on two other books besides this. One is what I would call “Earthly Spirituality” focusing on the activism in relation to global ecological disaster. While red alert signals of impending crises are flashing human beings are reluctant to act. There are two kinds of people. The money-minded people who would blot out their conscience when they see the Dollar Sign and the people of faith be they believers or fanatics. The book searches for the ingredients that push these people into action hoping to channel similar ingredients to motivate action to save the earth and life on earth.
The other book is an autobiography.
And a synopsis of his book…
The struggle goes on through the formation of a militant Indian Youth Force (Thondar Padai) in an estate that works in tandem with the Labour Unions organizing massive strikes that turn violent.
Post war demand for rubber increases but wages are depressed. Under highhanded government response the workers’ struggle builds up a groundswell throughout the country augmented by the pressure of the Communist Party until the government declares an emergency in 1948. Desa and Janeki seek an escape route.
You can find more about David and his book via…
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with children’s book author, freelance writer, and playwright Natasha Yim – the six hundred and twenty-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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