Penguin Random House publishes two Southeast Asia classics


Penguin Random House SEA, one of the leading publishing houses in the region, is introducting Classics from Southeast Asia on its publishing list for 2020 with two new titles.

Released last November were The Genealogy of Kings (Sulalat al-Salatin) by Muhammad Haji Salleh and Prisna by Princess Vibhavadi Rangsit, translated by Tulachandra, which is published in two volumes.

Originally titled Sulalat al-Salatin, which means “The Genealogy of Kings,” this literary work gives a romanticized history of the origin, evolution and demise of the great Malay maritime empire, the Malacca Sultanate. The work, which was written sometime between 15th and 16th centuries, is considered one of the finest literary and historical works in the Malay language. This iconic piece has been translated by prolific and award-winning Malay writer Muhammad Haji Salleh and will give readers valuable insight into the Malay Annals, which have had great influence on the history, culture and development of the Malay civilization.

Written by well-loved Princess Vibhavadi Rangsit (née Princess Vibhavadi Rajani), Prisna is the only English translation and the only translation authorised by the Princess’s estate. The story takes place in 1938 in Phra Nakhon, Thailand. The book is considered a rare, progressive work because of the Princess’ depictions of women being equal to men, contrary to the reality of that time.

Prisna is the story of young girl coming of age as she returns to her traditional familial roots in Thailand after spending 12 years in America. Princess Vibhavadi Rangsit is a member of the Thai royal family and is popular for her fiction and developmental work in rural Thailand.

The translator, Tulachandra, is the pen name of the late mother of a former Thai foreign minister, who translated the work as a favor to the Princess. Tulachandra was well-known for having translated many Thai classics into English.

On the publication of these classic titles, Nora Nazerene Abu Bakar, associate publisher of Penguin Random House SEA, says: “We are excited and proud to inaugurate our Southeast Asia Classics catalogue with these two legendary written works. These titles and many others of their kind have been able to capture and preserve the essence of another era, and we are honored to not just bring them back to the current literary landscape but also to reinforce their relevance amongst today’s readers.”

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