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Wednesday 31 March 2021

New Arrivals at The Penang Bookshelf in March 2021


New Arrivals at The Penang Bookshelf


March 2021

(Last Updated 31-3-21)

  • Each book advertised below includes a brief description of its contents and condition as well as the price in Malaysian Ringgit. If you want a fuller description of a used book's condition, to look at the scanned contents page, if any, and/or to find out the price in USD, please click on the link in blue for the relevant book. 
  • If you click on a link after the current month and find nothing, the book's been sold.  
  • Of course, if you want to buy anything you see here, you can either do so from the site or contact me at 
  • This page will be updated constantly until the end of the month.
  • The prices shown here hold good for at least this month, but for out of print books, the prices may change in subsequent months.
  • All prices include free postage to anywhere in Malaysia and to Singapore.

Malaysia & Singapore - Arts & Crafts

The book's lavish collection of more than 100 colour photographs may give the impression that this is yet another coffee table book, but after reading a few paragraphs you will realise that collectors are the author's intended audience. As the contents of its 187 pages show, this book has just about all one needs to know to set off in pursuit of a treasure to decorate your home. Contents - 1 - What is Straits Chinese Furniture? 2 - Blackwood/Rosewood Furniture, 3 - Namwood Red-and-Gold Furniture, 4 English-style Teakwood Furniture and 5 - Patina and Dating of Old Furniture. The book ends with a useful glossary and bibliography. New Paperback. Reprint

This boxed set contains all four of the author's well known and trusted guides on the crafts of the Straits Chinese, the descendants of intermarriages between early Chinese settlers in Malaya and their host community. Many in the community established prospering businesses which enabled them to display their wealth through the comissioning and purchase of artefacts that blended many styles. The four Collectors' Guides included in this boxed set are - Beadwork and Embroidery - Furniture - Porcelain and Silver.  New Paperbacks in a Slip Case. Reprints 

Malaysia & Singapore - Biography & Memoirs

A lively account of an Australian entrepreneur's experiences in Malaya at the end of the 19th century. Although he tried his hand at coffee planting, his main legacy is his contribution to establishing the country's original trunk roads for which he carried out much of the original survey work. Near Fine Paperback. Reprint. Originally published in 1898. 210 pages. 

This is an eventful and thoughtful memoir of a young planter, sent out to Malaya in 1930, who through force of circumstance became an effective support for the resistance in Japanese occupied Malaya and then worked against the Communist guerillas in the 'Emergency' that led up to the country's independence. He left the country in 1955 as Malaya gained 'its rightful independence' and wrote this memoir for his family while in retirement. The book has been edited for publication by his son. New Paperback. Second Edition 424 pages.

Rose Chan shocked and thrilled in the 1950's and  60's as the undisputed Striptease Queen of Asia. In the last few years of her life she engaged the author, a noted human rights lawyer and poet, to write her biography. The result is a frank and unusual mix of the ups and downs of her life and her recipes for food and for a healthy sex life. New Paperback 279 pages

With the help of his subject and Tan's family and business associates, the author has produced an account of the philosophy and activities one of Singapore and Malaysia's best known businessmen and philanthropists. Besides founding The Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, Tan played a significant role in at least a dozen other companies. New Hardback in a New Dust Jacket. First Edition 252 pages. For further details, please see the scanned contents page.


A school text book covering Sabah's history from prehistoric times until its accession to the Federation of Malaysia. Very Good Hardback. First Edition. 306 pages. For further details, please see the scanned contents page

One of the first comprehensive histories of Sarawak under Brooke rule with a preface by Charles Brooke. Very Good Hardback. First Edition 464 pages. with an index  and a fold out map.

This book traces the short and glorious history of the Iban Trackers who were reformed into the Sarawak Rangers when the British Government took over from the Brooke regime in 1948. They saw action in  the Malayan 'Emergency' , The Brunei Rebellion and in the Konfrontasi with Indonesia before being merged into the Malaysian army when Sarawak became part of Malaysia in 1963. New Paperback. First Edition. 125 pages  with some black and white and colour plates and a chronology of the unit's history.

Frank Swettenham's preface, which opens with the words 'It is well for the Malay races of Sarawak that they should find an advocate in their Ranee, for she loves them,' shows him at his insightful and patronising best. The Ranee then proceeds to match him in imperiousness with her opening words - 'Everyone has heard of Rajah Brooke. He was my husband's uncle, and this is how he became ruler of Sarawak.' She became Ranee about forty years before this book was written and gave up the position on her husband's death shortly after the book was published. So this biography gives the reader a rare insight into life behind the scenes in the anomaly that was the Sarawak of the Brookes. 320 pages with a map on the inside front cover and a front end paper, 27 black and white plates and an index. Originally published in 1913. Near Fine Paperback. Reprint 

Keppel, who later rose to become admiral of the British fleet, gained his first captaincy while on service in Southeast Asia. Coincidentally he took command of H.M.S. Dido just at the time James Brooke was establishing himself in Sarawak. This book is Keppel's accounts of his visits to the state before and after Brooke was established as rajah there. Most of the book is not an account of naval actions, but rather a description of the peoples and country he found there. This is facsimile reproduction of  the two volume set, originally published in 1846. Very Good Hardback 338 and xxviii pages (volume I) 237 and cx pages (Volume 2) including two pull out maps 

Malaysia & Singapore - Chinese Community & Culture

After completing a sociological study of rural Chinese society in Sechuan Province in China, the author sought to carry out similar research amongst a community of Chinese migrants in Malaysia. He settled on a community on the mainland of Penang state which had not been uprooted into new villages as a result of British counter insurgency measures. The resulting detailed study of a Teochiu rural community  includes 233 pages of text with 21 tables, 4 maps, 6 appendices and another 5 diagrams as well 15 black and white plates. Contents include: - 1 - The Chinese in Malaya, 2 - The Village in China, 3- The Village of Treacherous River, 4 - The Teochiu Family, 5 - Religion, 6 - Associations, 7 - The Organisation of Work within the Village, 8 - Disputes, 9 - Tortoise Mountain & 10 Conclusions Very Good Hardback in a Very Good Dust Jacket 

Malaysia & Singapore - Constitutions, Law & Legal Systems

In an effort to stimulate more interest in the short history of Singapore's legal system the author has gathered together a collection of essays to remind readers of how various aspects of  the system developed.  Near Fine  Paperback. First Edition. 294 pages. For further details please see the scanned contents page.

Malaysia & Singapore - Cooking & Food

Building on the success of his Penang Heritage food, Ong Jin Teong introduces the reader to a representative selection of utensils used by the Straits Chinese community for producing the fusion food for which they have become famous. Like the dishes themselves, the influences from China, the Malay Archipelago and Europe, inspired the implements' design. There is also plenty of room for familiar and rare recipes as well including Bak Chang, Rempah Udang, Sugee Cake, Kiam Chai Ark, Kuih Bahulu, Cheak Bee Soh, Sesargon, and Kuih Koci. New Hardback  276 pages with colour photos of the the utensils and recipes explained. 

A cookbook that not only introduces the reader to Teowchew and Hokkien dishes, as they are prepared in Malaysia and Singapore, but also mixes in some of the author's memories of her family and friends who either taught her these dishes or shared them with her. . New Paperback 167 pages with colour photos accompanying each recipe. Please see the scan of the contents page for further details.

Malaysia & Singapore - The 'Emergency'

Templer, often credited with turning the tide against against the Communist insurgents in the 'Emergency.' was a complex man. In this book the author, with the co-operation of, but not directed by, her widow seeks to piece together his life. Although he had many other accomplishments, both before and after his service in Malaya, he died largely unnoticed by politicians, but mourned by his fellow soldiers.  Please see scanned photos for a list of the chapters. Near Fine Hardback in a Near Fine Dust Jacket 508 pages. 

Malaysia & Singapore - Environment, Nature & Wildlife

Even in a city state like Singapore ferns can pop up in the most unlikely places. This pocket sized guide is a useful introduction to what you are likely to find. The author is an authority on ferns. Near Fine Paperback. Revised edition. 72 pages with many colour pictures

This book giving details of about 100 of the most attractive and easily found flowers claims to be the first one published on the subject in full colour. The author, an agronomy and horticultural academic, is particularly keen to see greater propagation of plants, so the book also contains information on propagation and maintenance. Very Good Hardback in A Very Good Dust Jacket. Reprint. Originally published in 1977.  171 pages whose contents include chapters on Flowering Trees, Ornamental Shrubs, Tropical Climbers, Orchids, Miscellaneous Plants, Propagation, Planting and Maintenance, Bibliography for Further Readings, Index to Common Names and Index to Botanical Names. 

This monumental work, published over two decades, sets out to describe 98 families with over 3000 species on the Malay Peninsula, excluding Dipterocarpaceeae which are dealt with in a separate volume. There are numerous line drawing through the work. Very Good Hardbacks in Very Good Dust Jackets Volume 1 ISBN 0582724120 473 pages Revised Edition, 1983, Volume 2 - ISBN 0582724139 444 pages Revised Edition, 1983, Volume 3 - 339 pages ISBN 0582724252 First Edition, 1978 &  Volume 4 - ISBN 9679762025 549 pages, 1989 First Edition. 

The classic work on the trees of Malaya completed by Corner while he was Assistant Director of the Botanical gardens, Singapore between 1929 and 1945. The first edition was published almost as the Japanese were arriving on the peninsula. The first volume is divided into four parts. Part I - Is a general description of the different types of trees to be found in Malaya, Descriptive terms, the different types of vegetation to be found and trees more common in particular states, Part II - Keys to Identification of Trees, Part III Descriptions of Families, Genera and Species & Part IV - Indices to English names, Malay Names, Botanical Names and to Botanical and Descriptive Terms. 772 pages. There are numerous line drawings interspersed within the text of the first volume. The second volume contains 228 black and white plates and an index of the plates. Good Hardbacks. Volume I only in a Good Dust Jacket  First Edition & Reprint 

Malaysia & Singapore - Fiction

A complicated romance where a planter in Malaya falls in love with another man's wife. The planter returns to England for six months vowing to marry his love, if she is ever free. Nevertheless he marries someone else in England and returns to Malaya with his new wife to find that his first love's husband has died. His jilted lover now swears to revenge herself. Good Hardback. First Edition. 187 pages. 

This novel is part of Shelley's fiction quartet based on the life of Singaporean Eurasians. Although Shelley Shelley started writing late in life he speedily picked up literary awards for his work. This novel is set in the  World War II era where a Japanese resident of Singapore is, against his better judgment recruited to join Japanese intelligence and then falls in love with a Straits-born Eurasian. As one might  expect for a war time novel, the book has its fair share of betrayal and intrigue amidst which this love affair struggles to survive. New Paperback Reprint 271 pages.

Based on the his experiences of the Japanese occupation of Malaya, Sebastian's book casts an unusual light on the period. Amidst the hardship and hunger, the boy James befriends a Japanese officer, described as 'an Englishman trapped in the body of a Japanese,' just one example of a hackneyed stereotype turned on its head. Fine Paperback. First Edition 335 pages. 

This crime novel is the follow up to the author's Shadow Play, the Winner of Best Debut Novel (Singapore Book Publishers Association Inaugural Book Awards 2012). Once more Mak Cik Maryam, the Kelantan  market trader, sets out to solve a grisly murder. This time the victim is a fellow trader. Sorcery is suspected, but Maryam is sure there's a more down to earth explanation for the crime. New Paperback 272 pages.

An anthropologist by training, the author puts her experiences of living and working with the people of Kelantan to good use, by writing the first ever detective series in English set in the state. Mak Cik Maryam, a Kota Bharu street trader steps into to try to solve a local murder that baffles the police. Despite becoming involved in a world of black magic and being subjected to vile spells put on her by the culprits, she doesn't give up. Winner of Best Debut Novel (Singapore Book Publishers Association Inaugural Book Awards 2012) New Paperback 

This novel is part of Shelley's fiction quartet based on the life of Singaporean Eurasians. Although Shelley Shelley started writing late in life he speedily picked up literary awards for his work. This novel is set in the  post World War II era where Bertha, a Portuguese Eurasian, discovers that her boisterous life of flirting and parties is undermined by  changes for which few are prepared. She's carried away by love but then discovers that she has a choice to make between betraying her lover or her country. New Paperback Reprint. 475 pages. 

This unusual collection of short stories is from a group of 20 Malaysian authors, aged between 11 and 15, who took part in a seven month programme of creative writing led by the editor. New Paperback. First Edition. 221 pages.

Malaysia & Singapore - Geography & Guide Books

Malaysia's islands are dwarfed by Indonesia's neighbouring archipelago, but the country's history been focused on the sea so its shores and islands have, until the modern era, been the centre of its life. Now many islands host resorts, but Gibby demonstrates in this book that there is much more to discover in the history and attractions of the many other islands dotted around Malaysia's coasts. Very Good Paperback. First Edition. 265 pages with many colour illustrations and an index

Malaysia & Singapore - Health & Medicine

One of the main attractions of Penang in the 21st century is as a centre for medical tourism. In this history of the practice of principally Western medicine from the late 18th century to the present, members of the profession and others bring to life the island's medical history. This revised edition also includes a section on traditional Chinese, Indian and Malay medicine. Near Fine Hardback. Revised Edition. 212 pages with a bibliography, an index and several black and white and colour photographs

Malaysia & Singapore - History

Developed from lecture notes by Tregonning when he was Raffles Professor of History at the University of Singapore and from his students' research this is a general history of the peninsula from the fifteenth century until the formation of Malaysia. Good Hardback in a Good Dust Jacket. First Edition. 339 pages. Please see the scan of the contents page for further details.

While India's relationship with and influence upon the Malay Archipelago since ancient times is well known, less attention has been paid to the role played by Sri Lanka in the archipelago's history. The author sets out to put that to rights in this well researched book. Good Hardback in a Very Good Dust Jacket. First Edition. 234 pages with five black and white plates. For further details please see the scanned contents page.

Shennan, who grew up in British Malaya, doesn't set out to write a political history of the period, but rather of the British who lived there. Noel Coward's alleged description of Malaya as 'a first-rate country for a second-rate people' was a pretty fair reflection of British attitudes to commercial and colonial endeavours in the country for much of the period when the British were there. Through interviews with those who were still living  and research into the writings of those who were not, the author makes a more sympathetic case than Coward for the British who, for better or ill, helped fashion the Malaysia of today. New Paperback. Reprint. 496 pages Please see the scan of the contents page for further details.

Malaysia & Singapore - History (19th Century)

The tone of Clifford's sketches of life in 19th century Malaya is set by the first sentence of his preface to this book - 'The nineteen tales and sketches, which are enclosed within the covers of this book, relate to certain brown men and obscure things in a distant and very little known corner of the Earth.' In other words it's one man's view of what life was like 'from the inside' living amongst people who were 'still in a state of original sin.' Very Good Hardback. Second Edition. The book was originally published in 1897. 255 pages. 

Malaysia & Singapore History (20th Century)

An interesting study on the power relationship between Malaya and its former colonial rulers in the first decade after Malayan independence. The cornerstone of British policy was the Anglo-Malayan Defence Agreement which committed the British, together with their Australian and New Zealand allies, to military support of Malaya which manifested itself principally during the 'Emergency' in Malaya and the Confrontation with Indonesia. It was a period when Britain still had delusions of colonial grandeur, which were forced to face reality shortly after the period covered in this book. Good Hardback in a Very Good Dust Jacket. First Edition. 197 pages. with a bibliography and an index.

Malaysia & Singapore - Language & Linguistics

One of the great joys of spoken language is the clues the language gives to the speakers' way of life. Baba Malay, the language spoken by by descendants of early Chinese immigrants to the Malay peninsula who intermarried with Malays, is no exception. Both the immigrants and the Malays they met hadn't had the benefit of a classroom, so 'bazaar' Malay and colloquial Hokkien went into the melting pot to produce this lively and gutsy language. The author helps us through our occasional bits of puzzlement  in this  Baba Malay - English dictionary by giving us the original Hokkien or Malay derivations of words that baffle. 223 pages ending with a glossary of cherki, the Straits Chinese card game, and illustrations of the cards. New Paperback First Edition 

This Malay language handbook has been a staple guide for new learners of the language since the 1940s. This updated edition includes the revised spellings introduced in 1972. Near Fine Paperback. Reprint. Revised edition of 1985. 186 pages

Malaysia & Singapore - Magic & Popular Religion

Skeat, one of the leading ethnographers working in Malaya in the late 19th and early 20th centuries specialised in writing lengthy works about what he unearthed at a time when there was very little written in English about the country's folklore and traditional culture. This work arises from both his own field research and his reading of previous literature mainly in Malay and Arabic. His field work was concentrated in the state of Selangor. Chapters include I - Nature, II - Man and His Place in the Universe, III - Relations with the Supernatural World, IV - The Malay Pantheon, V - Magic Rites Connected with the Several Departments of Nature, VI - Magic Rites as Affecting the Law of Man. 532 pages. This reprint includes copies of illustrations from the original 1900 edition.      New  Paperback Reprint . Originally published in 1900  

Malaysia & Singapore - Malay Community & Culture

A collection of previously published articles on Malay culture by a Professor of Malay Studies, one of the foremost experts on such matters at his time. The scope is wide ranging including, amongst others, literature, historiography, music, myth, traditional medicine and technology. It is claimed that this is the first attempt by a native Malay scholar to reflect on his own culture in detail in English. Very Good Paperback. First Edition 291 pages. 


A collection of twenty short stories recounting what it was like to grow up as a member of a working class Chinese family in Malacca in the mid twentieth century. The stories not only tell of family incidents, but give an insight into children's activities, traditional customs and the atmosphere of the city at the time. New Paperback. First Edition 144 pages

The author sets out to chronicle the economic, social, religious and cultural life of his community from the arrival of the Portuguese in Melaka until 1981. Like many other communities settled and abandoned by the Portuguese, this community maintains a strong individual identity today, despite centuries of little or no contact with Portugal. Very Good Paperback. First Edition 236 pages. Please see the scan of the contents page for further details.

Malaysia & Singapore - Politics

The progress towards independence in Malaya following the end of World War II was far from smooth. Although the most visible and disruptive events during the period were as a result of the Communist insurgency, there was a fair amount of turmoil in the domestic political scene as well. In this book, Stockwell recounts the efforts of the British to foist a Malayan Union, concocted by the British with little consultation during the war, on the Malayan people. Very Good Paperback. First Edition. 206 pages. For further details, please see the scanned contents page.

This trenchant critique of Government policy, originally published more than 30 years ago, is as telling today as it was then. The author, who has a political service longer than any prime minister of the country since independence, not only concentrates on what he sees needs to be put right, but has suggestions on how to do it. The work is divided into four sections looking in turn at 1- Nation Building, Democracy and Corruption, 2- The New Economy Policy, Malaysian Plans and Budget, 3 - Human Rights and Constitutional Guarantees & 4 - Education and Labour. Good Paperback. Second Edition. With a Special Commentary on the 1978 General Elections 346 pages.

Malaysia & Singapore - Religion

This collection of articles is a useful introduction to the ways of conforming with the general restrictions on consumption that govern halal practice for strict Muslims. There are sections on certification, food, cosmetics, hospitality and banking as well as a section on other products. New Paperback. First Edition. 147 pages. 


Malaysia & Singapore - World War II

It's difficult to have a complete picture of what happened during the Japanese occupation of Malaya and Singapore because the Japanese destroyed most of their administrative records at the time of surrender. However historians have slowly been able to plug this gap through personal accounts of the occcupiers and occupied and some fragmentary written records in Japan. In this book a group of academics specilising in this field have contributed essays on the following topics - 1 - The Impact of the Japanese Occupation on the Malay-Muslim Population (Abu Talib Ahmad), 2 - The Japanese Occupation of Malaya and the Chinese Community ( Hara Fujio), 3 - The Anti-Japanese Movement in Perak during the Japanese Occupation 1941-45 (Yoji Akashi), 4 - Memoirs of War in Malaya (P. Lim Pui Huen), 5 - Japan Remembers the Malaya Campaign (Henry P. Frei)  Like New Paperback. First Edition 175 pages including an index

This is the classic story of one of the first jungle war experts of the modern era. He takes us through the period of the Japanese occupation of Malaya. Between the invasion and the fall of Singapore he was involved in behind the scenes operations to try to sabotage the Japanese advance. After Singapore fell he remained on the peninsula working with the orang asli (aborigines) and Communist guerillas to do what he could to undermine the occupation until the return of the British. New Paperback Reprint. Originally published in 1949 347 pages with 5  maps and  black and white plates 

This book is mainly an account of the conviction for war crimes of the Japanese Generals Yamashita and Homma in the Philippines at the end of the Second World War. There is some information on Yamashita's successes in Malaya as well. The author was a member of the US Military Police responsible for holding the generals pending trial. New Paperback Reprint. Originally published in 1953. 112 pages with some black and white plates

These are the internment diaries of George Peet, who was editor of the prestigious Straits Times newspaper both when Singapore fell to the Japanese and again immediately after the end of the war. As a seasoned journalist he was able to bring to life the ingenious methods used by civilian internees to make the best of a bad lot during their imprisonment. The book is compiled and edited by his granddaughter. New Paperback. First Edition. 245 pages


A survey of domestic pottery in Southeast Asia for over 5,000 years up to the time of publication. The author, an art historian, not only covers Chinese and Japanese imported ware, but also the more dominant local production centres. Very Good Hardback. First Edition. 72 pages. For further details, please see the scanned contents page.

A collection of newspaper articles written between 1999 and 2002. The well-known Malaysian commentator pursues a quest to find out the variety of pre 9/11 Islamic practice in the region,  who are the emerging leaders getting ready to replace the familiar figures who guided so many their countries' post independence eras and what function, if any, art does or can play in stimulating regional integration. Very Good Paperback Reprint. Originally published in 2002 237 pages.

An account of a journey in the 1870s from Europe to India, Ceylon, The Straits Settlements, the Netherlands East Indies, Siam, Japan and the United States. Very Good Paperback. Reprint Originally published in 1889. 388 pages with some line drawings and colour prints 


The author was born in China when her father had already set off to the USA to seek his fortune leaving his wife and family behind. He was successful and apparently re-married leaving the family in China to fend for themselves. The author takes us through her disjointed family history, disrupted by parting, war and revolution as the the different bits of their family make good in the US, Singapore and Hong Kong. Much of what happened to her parents was kept hidden from Li, but in this tumultuous story she manages to discover a fascinating family history. New Paperback 370 pages

A handy introductory guide to the beautiful world of Chinese ceramics tracing the different styles from ancient times to the Qing period. New Hardback in a New Dust Jacket.  144 pages with several colour illustrations. 

An English translation of an award winning Chinese novel following the lives of three generations of three families trying to cope through four decades of China's tumultuous history. Good Paperback.  451 pages.

Hong Kong  

This novel is a Southeast Asian blockbuster that takes the reader through the upheavals of a well off Hong Kong family negotiating the changes of the twentieth century. Wong, who has been described as a writer with "elegant style," is also strong on characterisation and surprising, but not unbelievable, twists in his narrative. New Paperback 574 pages


A comprehensive guide to this species of popular aquarium fish. Very Good Hardback  382 pages with an index and  many illustrations