March 31, 2015

Tall Tales and MisAdventures of a Young Westernized Oriental Gentleman by Goh Poh Seng

Goh Poh Seng in Ireland, courtesy of Goh Poh Seng website.  Goh later became a Canadian citizen, residing in Vancouver, BC.  
This book of autobiographical short stories by the late Goh Poh Seng, the Westernized Oriental Gentleman, or WOG, of the title, describes his adventures as a young Asian student in the Ireland of the 1950s. Brought up in post-war Kuala Lumpur, the impressionable young man found himself transported to a totally different milieu and culture. The stories describe his voyage to Europe, a sojourn in an Asian student hostel, and the shock of life as a boarder in a Catholic school.

Set in the 50's, Tall Tales and MisAdventures of a Young Westernized Oriental Gentleman is book of short stories that follow a young Goh from the first tentative steps of his voyage to Europe, to his sojourn in a hostel for Asian students, and the shock of boarding life in a Catholic school; continues with his early awakening and then total embrace of all the cultural and literary delights of Dublin. We meet a tapestry of characters including the poet Paddy Kavanagh. This excerpt from One Summer at Cloc Na Ron is based on one summer in the author’s youth when everything seemed possible: the summer he knew he would be a writer.

The writing of these stories was supported by a grant from Canada Council in 2001. The manuscript was completed in Spring 2007. The story that follows has already been published in two anthologies.  Goh passed away in 2014.

They continue with his early awakening to the possibility of becoming a writer, and his embrace of the cultural and literary pleasures of Dublin. Along the way he encountered a colorful tapestry of characters, among them a member of the Anglo-Irish gentry, the suave and charming Tom-Pierre from the West Indies, and the much-loved Irish poet Paddy Kavanagh.