Seven weeks ago, we kicked off our very first podcast called Busy Reading Books, or BRB for short. Hosted by Zafigo founder Marina Mahathir, a voracious reader herself, each episode of BRB features a theme and highlights numerous books within the said theme that’ll take listeners on adventures across the world. Be it fiction, fantasy, or French cooking, BRB proves that there truly is a book for everyone!
New episodes of this weekly show go live every Wednesday and are available on any platform where you get your podcasts. In case you’ve missed the previous episodes of BRB, scroll down to catch up!
Episode 1 | A Peek Into Busy Reading Books
Marina talks about how she came about the idea for a podcast about books, and gives you a sneak peek into the books and themes that will be explored throughout the season.
Episode 2 | Women Writers Around The World
To celebrate Women’s History Month as well as amazing women writers around the world, Marina, a published writer herself, gives listeners insight into the tough world of publishing and how hard it is for women. She also shares a generous list of her favourite books written by women that includes Half Of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, and Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson.
Episode 3 | Talking Books, Inspiration, And Homegrown Authors with Tash Aw
Malaysian novelist Tash Aw shot to international fame when his first novel The Harmony Silk Factory was published in 2005. Since then, he’s gone on to publish three more novels – Map of the Invisible World, Five Star Billionaire, and We, The Survivors – alongside numerous short stories and essays. Having won a number of international book prizes and his work translated into over 20 languages around the world, Tash Aw is easily the most successful Malaysian writer to date. In this episode, Marina chats with Tash about his recent projects, books by Malaysian writers they’ve both recently read and loved, and what Malaysians can hopefully expect from the local literary scene.
Episode 4 | A Brief Guide To Great Indian Writers
Not only is India the world’s second-largest English-language book market, but it has also produced some of the world’s best fiction and non-fiction authors. Marina takes us through a list of nationally and globally awarded writers, as well as some of her personal favourites including Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, and The Vicks Mango Tree by Anees Salim.
Episode 5 | Talking Romance Novels, Writing, & Decolonising the Publishing Industry with Pyae Moe Thet War
Marina catches up with her former University of East Anglia classmate Pyae Moe Thet War, a Myanmarese writer who is working on her first book – an essay collection entitled You’ve Changed – that is slated for release in 2022. They chat about the books they’ve read and liked, and whether cultural issues that arise from Asians who have studied and lived in the West (like them) are worth exploring in their writing. Some of the books raised in this episode include The Weight Of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf, Girlhood by Melissa Febos, and Names for Light: A Family History by Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint.
Episode 6 | True Story! A Look at Autobiographies, Biographies, & Memoirs
Marina takes listeners through the distinct characteristics of memoirs, autobiographies, and biographies, and explains what exactly it is that differentiates these non-fiction formats. She also shares a list of her favourite non-fiction books, including Dadland by Keggie Carew, The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, and Becoming by Michelle Obama.
Episode 7 | On Nurturing a Passion for Reading with Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
Former Malaysian prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, is one of the most prominent figures in Malaysian politics and a National Reading Icon. He also happens to be Marina’s father. What types of books does the 95-year-old former premier like to read? Marina sits down for a chat with Tun Dr Mahathir about some of his favourite authors (Ken Follet, Wilbur Smith, and Jeffrey Archer just to name a few), the books he’s written and is working on, and why we should encourage the younger generation of Malaysians to read, especially in English.