Izni Zahidi’s The Longest Honeymoon (2012)
Friday, 3rd August, 2012 § 4 Comments
Travel memoirs are especially difficult to sell, more so than just a regular memoir. It needs a hook to capture one’s interest. If you’re a Hollywood celebrity or an explorer then the battle to grab attention is half won already. If your travel memoir has a specific agenda then that helps as well (for example, Nisah Haron’s Kembara Sastera). Also helps if you’re an established author. But if you’re relatively unknown in the publishing world and you self-publish your adventures gallivanting across Europe, then the challenge to get noticed is just that tad more difficult. Izni Zahidi knows all about those challenges.
In her blog, she lists the frustrations she had to go through to get her book published before deciding to just publish the darn book herself (a quote from her blog post: “One [publisher] even told me that I can publish the book when I become famous”). Good thing she lives in an age when vanity publishing has been made so much easier and accessible. But is her book any good?
The 265-page book tells of her journey across Europe as a newlywed, living in four different countries within two years. Izni Zahidi had always wanted to travel abroad and if it wasn’t for the many obstacles she had to face she would have. Her opportunity came when she was offered a spot in a water resources management programme which enabled her to stay in France, Britain, Denmark, Hungary and take occasional sightseeing trips to locations nearby, including Egypt (which qualifies as ‘nearby’ when you’re in Europe, I suppose). Izni chronicles her two year journey abroad with infectious glee. Travelling abroad for the first time, she observes the people she meets and the places she visits with childlike innocence and wonder and if you’ve never been to Europe before you would probably share her wide eyed curiosity as well.
But if you have been to Europe, then The Longest Honeymoon brings nothing new to the table. There’s always the matter of the elusive ‘hook’. I can see why that one publisher facetiously asked Izni to wait until she was famous before offering them the opportunity to publish her manuscript. Outside of her friends and family, I would be hard pressed to think of anyone who would be interested to read it. The Longest Honeymoon is not a badly written travel memoir. Far from it. It is interesting, honest and occasionally amusing but it is a travel memoir of (let’s face it) an unknown Malaysian and it is difficult to ask anyone to fork out RM30 (or USD$12.89 at Amazon) in order to read a newlywed Malaysian woman experiences living and studying in Europe. It needs a hook. Where is the damn blasted hook to capture the potential reader’s interest? There’s always the ‘legal alien living abroad’ angle but other than that there’s nothing. Her travels, while exciting for her, was not entirely unique. Many Malaysians, married or single, man or woman, have been to Europe. It is not terra incognita for us. It is also unfortunate that Ms. Izni forgot to include any photos within the book. Not that it’s a requirement but seeing as how it’s a travel memoir it would have been nice to see some photos of her travels.
Her travels would have been more widely read if she had posted it for free in her blog…well, actually she did blog about her European sojourn but she elaborates more in her book. Still, if you want to support a fledgling writer you can click her website and purchase a copy of The Longest Honeymoon. It’s not available at the local bookshops.