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Malaysian maverick writer celebrates Kuala Lumpur's dark side

Author Bernice Chauly excavates struggle among social elites during Reformasi era

Author Bernice Chauly reads from her new novel "Once We Were There" in Singapore on June 29. (Courtesy of Epigram Books)

KUALA LUMPUR -- Bernice Chauly, a prominent figure in Malaysia's literary scene, looked relieved as she reflected on her six-year journey to become a fiction author. "Everything about writing a novel," she said emphatically, "is difficult."

Her debut, "Once We Were There," is a racy, dark and sexually frank political novel set in Kuala Lumpur during the bleak years of the Reformasi era, a unique period in Malaysia's contemporary history.

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