Heidi Shamsuddin’s newest anthology offers some retellings and deeper insights of beloved folk stories gathered from Malaysia and across the Nusantara region.
Following the success of her children’s book The Malay Tale of the Pig King in 2020 (which retells the Indonesian tale of Hikayat Raja Babi), Heidi returns to her passion of telling fairy tales from South-East Asia. A collection of fairy tales, folklore, fables, myths, epics, legends, wonder and magic tales from all around Southeast Asia.
Nusantara – A Sea of Tales is the most comprehensive collection of folktales, fairy tales, myths and legends from the Nusantara and Southeast Asian region, and was written to sit alongside the great anthologies of folklore from other parts of the world.
Although it is impossible to trace the origins of most of these traditional tales, we do know that these stories were used as a means to discover ourselves and the world around us. Like a living creature, these tales came into existence at some point, and have since evolved and adapted to suit the needs of the community that it finds itself in. The seafaring nature of the people in this region has no doubt contributed to the spread of these tales and explains the fascinating variations across Southeast Asia.
These rich and layered tales contain all manner of wonder, marvels and strange curiosities, and have been written to enthral a new audience. The author has delved into the history and the meaning behind these tales but like all good fairy tales and folktales, each reader will extract their own meaning from these stories. The symbols in these stories engage our imagination and challenges us to question, discuss and unravel life’s conflicts and mysteries. Herein lies the true power of these stories and the reason why these tales must be preserved and allowed to live and breathe once more.
Purchase the book at Penguin’s official site, here.