2010 Granny shares her memories with readers

Wednesday March 17, The Star By ANDY CHUA

GRANDMOTHER Angela Yong, 84, who broke the hearts of fans two years ago when she quit writing due to failing health, has made a return and is working on her eighth book.

Her latest book, which has yet to be named, will be a memoir and is expected to be published in August.

“There are stories about headhunters, the outlook of people I know and even information on the anthem of Sarawak during the colonial rule called Sarawak Arise.

“I hope to give our younger generation a clearer picture of life in the old days,” Yong said.

She had previously published an autobiography, five collections of short stories and a book of Foochow proverbs and idioms.
Prolific writer: Yong was halfway through the eighth book when she fell and took a break to recover from her injury.

Her first book published in 1997 was Through the back door. This was followed by One Thing Good But Not Both; Different Lives, Different Fates; 160 Foochow Proverbs and Idioms; Green Beans and Talking Babies; Sarawak Rojak; and 888, All The Way Prosper.

When met recently at her residence, Yong, whose mind is still sharp although she has difficulty hearing, said she was prompted to continue writing by her son, Philip Hii, who is also her editor. Hii has been a lecturer in a university in the United States for the past 20 years.

“Philip called me up from the United States several times saying that since I still have a lot of interesting stories to tell, I should put them into books for people to read,” Yong said.

“Philip will be back in June. He would as usual go through the manuscript and edit it before sending it to print. I am expecting the book to be available to the public in August,” she said.

She said she had completed half of her new book before she had a fall at home in February last year and was bedridden for several weeks.

She said that she would have completed the book by the end of last year if not for the accident.

In all her previous works, she focused on real life happenings during the colonial rule and the Japanese occupation. Most readers found her stories to be entertaining, informative and humorous.

In her books, she tells the stories of her childhood and early adult life. She also has stories of people she knew and stories told to her; human stories, some tragic, others comical — but all with a touch of the same human frailties.

Yong was born in China in 1926, the year her parents migrated to Sarawak. She grew up in Sibu.

During World War II, she married James Hii Mee Chiong. They raised eight daughters and five sons. James died in 1986.

Yong, a former teacher at St Francis Xavier Primary School in Kanowit, used to entertain her 15 grandchildren by telling them stories. That was a decade ago and it was then that her children persuaded her to write.

All her books are sold at RM10 each and available at most leading bookshops in Sarawak.

Asked whether she would continue writing, she replied: “A lot of people want me to write at least 10 books. As age is really taking a toll on me, I will only do so if my health permits.”

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Author: Museum Volunteers, JMM

Museum Volunteers, JMM Taking the Mystery out of History

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