Local author’s controversial book released

Local author Murali Ram has released his debut novel, The Book of Walla, which is now available at Books & Books.

Tonight, at 7pm, Mr. Ram will be at the bookstore in Camana Bay to discuss and sign copies of the novel, which draws from the author’s interest in religion and his expertise in the field of law.

The Book of Walla has been banned in Malaysia due to its controversial subject matter. The ban did not come as a complete surprise to Mr. Ram.

‘I was expecting the book to be banned but I thought it might happen a lot later, once the book was on the shelves, but the authorities viewed the book and nipped it in the bud,’ Mr. Ram said. ‘Of the religious people in the world today, the people of the Muslim faith are probably the ones who are most conscious of what is being said about them, and their faith.’

The Malaysian Ministry of Internal Affairs cited ‘public order’ and ‘breach of Islamic guidelines’ as their reasons for prohibiting the sale of the book in Malaysia.

‘In a way I am disappointed,’ he said. ‘It’s disheartening that my fellow Malaysians will not have the chance to read this book and debate about it. My friends and family, who were looking forward to the book, now can’t get a hold of it.’

Mr. Ram explained that although Malaysia is made up of several cultures and religions – it is about 60 per cent Muslim, 20 per cent Christian and numerous other religions make up the remainder, he estimated – Islam is the official religion.

‘It’s a secular country but when the state has an official religion, you have a blurred line where government and religion mix.’

However, Mr. Ram is not concerned about the book’s reception in Cayman.

‘I think it will be fine. I have had some positive feedback from Caymanians locally so far,’ he said.

The book tells the story of how Dr. Shoorab’s world gets ripped apart as a result of a violent riot outside a Hindu temple. Convinced that religious dogma is liable for his loss, he decides to sue God, naming the various religious councils as joint defendants.

The litigation forces bishop, mufti and swami to temporarily put aside their differences and pull together in defence of their respective faiths – and God. Amidst global unrest calling for the dismissal of the lawsuit, the trial judge finds himself in a peculiar dilemma as curious events unfold in the courtroom, conscious that his decision could change the world forever.

Tonight, he will present briefly about the book and host a questions and answers session before signing purchased copies.

The book arrived in Cayman about three weeks ago and is available at Books & Books, though it was officially released at the end of March, and was available on Amazon.com.

Mr. Ram worked on the book for eight years.

‘I think primarily it took that long because I’m not a full-time writer,’ he said, as he works as an attorney at Mourant de Feu and Jeune – Cayman. ‘Also because this is my first novel, I had to teach myself the technical aspects of writing a novel. I had to study books that teach the art and technical aspects of it, how you create characters and points of view and – most importantly – what you should avoid.’

Mr. Ram added that he read a lot to pick ideas from other writers and to ‘see how they put the theory into practice’. He cites comedic travel writer Bill Bryson as his favourite author.

Mr. Ram was raised in Georgetown, Penang, where he was exposed to a number of world religions. He has travelled across continents to cities steeped in religious history and culture, providing much of the material for this book.

Having lived in Malaysia and England, he currently resides in Cayman with his wife, daughter and son.

‘Of the religious people in the world today, the people of the Muslim faith are probably the ones who are most conscious of what is being said about them, and their faith’ – Murali Ram, author

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