Over a month ago, Jalan Tun H.S Lee welcomed a new opening, Riwayat—named after a local rhyme, is a friendly neighbourhood local bookstore nestled in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. With its nationalistic approach to supporting Malaysian writers, the selection here highlights South East Asian Literature among other genres. During my visit here, I had the opportunity to bump into the co-founders of the bookstore, Tengku Roestam and Muhammad Nazreen.
When asked what initiated the birth of Riwayat, Nazreen responded that there appears to be a growing interest among Malaysians in reading, particularly in genres of local fiction and non-fiction. He added that Riwayat, with its traditional outlook on local literature, is described as narrative and storytelling. The literary space also hopes to create opportunities for local and self-publishers to make their work more accessible while allowing the public to appreciate local creative talents and authors.
The independent bookstore carries renowned local authors such as Usman Awang, Mohammad Haji Salleh, K.S Maniam, and Lee Suu Kim. Housed within a pre-war building, one can appreciate the nuances of our history and the traces of the past, present, and future while browsing through the many shelves at Riwayat.
Riwayat is a gift to the community as it honours homegrown authors and promotes reading among Malaysians and serves as a blank canvas for upcoming and seasoned writers to express their love and enthusiasm for literature.
Towards the end of my visit, I realised that literature is a powerful tool in addressing the societal needs of a country and Riwayat makes space for authors to continue their stories in pursuit of an even better chapter.
Feature image: Riwayat.