Journalist and sociocultural advocate Niki Cheong has spent the last decade writing about life in Malaysia. He’s now the author of the book Growing Up In KL: 10 Years Of The Bangsar Boy, a compilation of 40 articles from his popular newspaper column The Bangsar Boy from 2006 to 2016.
His stories present a snapshot of Malaysian life through the eyes of an urban city teen from the 1980s to a fully realised progressive man of today. And in this episode of The Library Is Open, he reads a 2008 story about the personalities and characters that make up his neighbourhood community.
“It’s hard to imagine it’s been 10 years,” Niki says of his column. “But the hundreds of articles I went through to select the collection in this book spoke to the amount of time gone by. Revisiting the articles was an adventure, harking back to earlier pieces where I wrote anonymously as the Bangsar Boy.”
The Bangsar Boy was inspired by a story Niki shared with his then-editor about his mother Tammy’s obsession with computer games. Over the years, the column evolved beyond stories about his childhood and family, and spoke of the shared experiences that KLites and Malaysians of his generation related to.
“My Bangsar is reflective of Kuala Lumpur and, by extension, Malaysia,” Niki says. “It’s no wonder that in over a decade, the articles I wrote extended beyond stories about the life of a city boy to include current and social issues.”
Niki is also passionate about the impact of digital culture on society,. He researches and lectures on sociocultural issues, politics and the media. And he is currently based in the UK at the University of Nottingham as a PhD researcher in Critical Theory and Cultural Studies.
Growing Up In KL also includes musings from former Miss Malaysia Yasmin Yusuff and Elaine Daly, actor and director Jo Kukathas and Zahim Albakri, comedian Kuah Jenhan, radio jock Adam Carruther, and UN Goodwill Ambassador James Chau among others, all in response to his articles. The most significant contributor is Niki’s father Alex Cheong, who passed away in 2016.
The Library Is Open is directed and produced by Lennard Gui and Ian Lau for Star2.com and TheStarTV.com. This exclusive audio visual book series features Asian writers, authors, poets, playwrights and screenwriters reading their work. Click on these links for more videos.
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* Malaysian author Zen Cho Reads, voted Best Newcomer at the British Fantasy Awards 2016, reads Sorcerer To The Crown, about the adventures of England’s first African Sorcerer Royal.