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Arts

Malaysian horror writer screams from the shadows

Tunku Halim brings ancient demons to life in contemporary fiction

Writer Tunku Halim has often been called "the Malaysian Stephen King" for his dark tales, but he also writes on subjects as diverse as dieting, history and minimalist living. (Courtesy of the author)   

KUALA LUMPUR -- When it comes to harrowing, terrifying or dangerous places, Malaysia would hardly come to mind -- even for veteran Asia watchers. Yet Tunku Halim, a renegade member of the royal family of the Malaysian state of Negeri Sembilan, has won an honored place for his dark fiction because, as he puts it, Malaysians "love to share and pass around our ghouls, ghosts and spirits."

Tunku Halim bin Tunku Abdullah (Tunku is an honorary title) says he doesn't feel comfortable with the term "horror," preferring "dark" or "supernatural," but he draws on a vast panoply of local myths and superstitions, and has often been called the "Malaysian Stephen King," in a reference to the best-selling American horror writer.

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