Cry of the Flying Rhino Ivy Ngeow Proverse speech at Helena May Hong Kong 16 November 2017
Winner of Proverse Prize Hong Kong 2016 for best international novel
This is a transcript of the inspiring speech Ivy gave to at the Proverse Parade launch at the Helena May club, Hong Kong on 16 November 2017. For more on Cry of the Flying Rhino novel see here >
Watch the award given to Ivy
Good evening. I’d like to say thanks to Middlesex University for first reading this book, Professor Jason S Polley for the preface, Lawrence Gray, Robert Raymer and Professor Vaughan Rapatahana for the advance commentaries, Isabel White, my former literary agent who has always had complete faith in me, the organisers and judges of the Proverse Prize, Professor Gillian Bickley and Professor Verner Bickley for their efforts in making this book not just a reality but a work of art. To my parents who first taught me to do whatever I love and to do it with all my heart. To my family for being part of ‘Team Ivy’ from the start and every day. To my friends in Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, USA and UK: I am sorry I am unable to individually mention you but you know who you are. Special thanks for your love, support, snapchats, hugs, my favourite food and beverage through all the highs and lows of my writing life.
Winning the 2016 Proverse Prize advocates excellence in literature and the love of and for books. International writing is still at the heart of postcolonial literature, which as a Commonwealth writer, I am proud to represent. The International Proverse Prize for Unpublished Fiction, Non-fiction and Poetry is open to all irrespective of residence, citizenship or nationality. Proverse is run by and for authors. By supporting all writers including non-native-speakers writing in English like myself as well as native English-speaking writers, Proverse Hong Kong reflects the growth of English literature and promotes culture and diversity. The world is changing and has changed so much since the time I started writing as an 8-year-old child.
Cry of the Flying Rhino is a post-colonial South East Asian novel. It’s set in Malaysia and the Borneo jungles between the mid nineties to the mid noughties. A Malaysian Chinese doctor, a middle-class Western-educated professional becomes entangled with a tattooed girl of indigenous origin. He’s married her and thus her past secrets.
Cry raises uneasy themes of race, religion, class struggle, poverty, capitalism, deculturalisation and corruption. George Orwell said “if freedom means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” I tell the truth through fiction. Freedom of expression is what the Proverse Prize is about.
Tonight is that special reminder of the joy that books bring. They entertain, educate, stimulate, inspire and bring people together. We are all here because of books. When I pick up a book. I am still filled with the same wonder I had as a child.
My life has changed since winning this competition. It means a lot to me that not only am I being valued as a writer, I am being taken seriously as someone who takes risks. It is a rite of passage for me. It is what I fought so hard and so long for.
As such this moment is so much bigger than I am. This moment is for every struggling woman writer of diversity, who now has a voice, a chance. Tonight this door has been opened.
Thanks again to Proverse for the impact they’ve had on me and my writing career, and especially to Professor Gillian Bickley for sharing with me your wealth of experience, kindness and generosity in working with me so closely and diligently in the last few months.
Ladies and gentleman, please support everybody who’s made it possible tonight by buying our books, reading our books, joining my mailing list and lastly telling everybody you know. Thank you Proverse, readers and writers, and thank you, Hong Kong. Thanks to all. Good night.