Synopses & Reviews
Kampung Boy is a favorite of millions of readers in Southeast Asia. With masterful economy worthy of Charles Schultz, Lat recounts the life of Mat, a Muslim boy growing up in rural Malaysia in the 1950s: his adventures and mischief-making, fishing trips, religious study, and work on his family's rubber plantation. Meanwhile, the traditional way of life in his village (or kampung) is steadily disappearing, with tin mines and factory jobs gradually replacing family farms and rubber small-holders. When Mat himself leaves for boarding school, he can only hope that his familiar kampung will still be there when he returns. Kampung Boy is hilarious and affectionate, with brilliant, super-expressive artwork that opens a window into a world that has now nearly vanished.
"Malaysian comics creator Lat makes his American debut with this down-to-earth account of childhood in a Southeast Asian kampung, or village. His black-and-white text resembles a chronological sketchbook, with stilt-houses and jungle plants inked on each page, and handwritten text explaining events and customs. Impatient readers might wish for a glossary or map: 'I was born in a kampung in the heart of the world's largest tin-mining district the Kinta Valley in Perak,' says the narrator, and leaves it at that. But most will enjoy the protagonist's casual chronicle of rites of passage such as a hair-shaving ceremony ('adat cukur kepala'), lessons in the Koran at age six, the Bersunat (circumcision) ceremony at age 10, and a trip to the movies circa 1960. From the window of his house, he sees a rubber plantation and hears the 'distant roaring sound... of a tin dredge.' Later, Constable Mat Saman, a Barney Fife like zealot toting an automatic rifle, chases villagers who pan the river for saleable tin scraps. Lat's adults have narrow chests and slouch pelvis-first, while mischievous children canoe, dive and fish in the river. This first in a projected series ends on a to-be-continued note, with the narrator leaving for boarding school and already homesick for the kampung. Lat's loose, laid-back stories of Muslim family life and school should appeal to Marjane Satrapi fans; with humor and affection, Lat makes the exotic kampung feel familiar. All ages. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
One of the most beloved cartoonists in Southeast Asia, Lat published his first work when he was just thirteen years old. He has received numerous awards, including, in 1994, the prestigious Malaysian honorific title Datuk. Most recently he was honored by the Malaysian Press Institute with their Special Jury Award, given to "those who have contributed significantly to journalism and society and have become an institution in their own right."