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Books: Female novelists investigate Malaysia's ethnic puzzle

Two new novels explore identity and race issues unsettled since independence

Recent novels by Malaysian female authors Karina Robles Bahrin and Preeta Samarasan both reflect on issues of race and identity in the multiethnic, predominantly Islamic Southeast Asian nation. (Nikkei Montage/photos courtesy of the authors)

KUALA LUMPUR -- A contemporary Chinese Malaysian career woman thinks that loving a man of a different race and being his mistress may be the best the world has in store for her -- until her past turns her world upside down.

Fifty years earlier, a mixed-race boy leaves Kuala Lumpur to follow his extravagant Malay mother to a hidden hill in the remote Cameron Highlands. At 6 years of age, the boy is too young to understand life in the community of part-hippies, part-dropouts that inhabits the Muhibbah Center for World Peace.

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