It’s our fourth installment of the 7-Day Book Covers Challenge. The book cover design we’re posting is for the book “Man of Malaysia” by Tan Kok Seng

For four years while in college I spent every summer and winter — about five months of the year — in the South Pacific, namely in Papua New Guinea and Australia. My family was there, and so it was “home.” By extension I traveled frequently through Singapore, stopping for a few days while on a “visa run” or in transit to and from other parts of Asia.

As I was a voracious reader at the time, I would always stop by a popular local bookstore in a shopping center along the famous Orchard Road. Singapore is a multi-cultural city-state with large Chinese, Malay and Indian populations. English (or “Singlish”) is widely used. As such there’s a lot of Singaporean literature published in English, and I always made a point of picking up a couple of books by local authors. I was super curious about their perspectives.

“Man of Malaysia” was one of these books. The cover design is minimalist but its simple line drawing of a man’s face conveys warmth and humanity, if not humility.

Great literature, this book is not. But it’s a compelling story that reads as an account of the author’s experience growing up in neighboring Malaysia in the post-war, post-colonial era. That was a time when the country was forging its identity as an independent nation and going through rapid economic and industrial development. Seng bears witness to these events while telling how he rose from humble socio-economic poverty and made a life for himself and his family in the new Malaysia.