Feb, 2023 -The Accidental Malay by Karina Robles Bahrin

BG 1 - February 2023 review


The Accidental Malay by Karina Robles Bahrin

About the author: Karina’s debut as a writer was when she guest-edited a weekly teen column in The Straits Times, she wrote various short stories and she is a former columnist with the weekly The Heat. She currently lives and works on the island of Langkawi and this book is her first novel.


The synopsis of the story has been in Karina’s head for a long time already and when the world ground to a halt because of the Covid-19 pandemic she finally found the time to write the novel.


About the book: the first chapters of the book may trick you into reading a so-called easy going ‘chick-lit’ novel as the main characters are rich, good looking with a jetsetter’s lifestyle. However, shortly after introducing the readers to the main players in the book the author takes you on a rollercoaster of human grief caused by Malaysian race and religion politics.


The main character Jasmine, who was destined to take over the reins of a large bak kwa (Chinese pork snack) company once her grandma passes away, finds out that she is not Chinese but a Malay Muslim. The author is very frank and straight forward about the human cost of marital conversion, the corruption and struggle of many women in Malaysia to realise their own ambition and future.

About the discussion: eight members of the book group met up in Langkawi, which was the first time this group held the discussion outside of KL. It was also a great opportunity to meet and talk to the author which took place at her resort where we all had lunch.


Karina told us that she got a lot of critique from the Muslim society but she said: “I know that my story will trigger certain parts of the Malaysian community, but as authors we should be prepared for how people will react”.


Pamela De Lange-Storck