Fresh literary magazine sets sights on Mekong states

Minh Bui Jones is the editor and publisher of new literary publication, "The Mekong Review". PHOTO SUPPLIED/ROBERT STARKWEATHER
Minh Bui Jones is the editor and publisher of new literary publication, "The Mekong Review". PHOTO SUPPLIED/ROBERT STARKWEATHER

Fresh literary magazine sets sights on Mekong states

A new quarterly literary magazine being launched today at the Kampot Writers and Readers Festival is set to publish features, reviews, poetry and prose for and about the six countries through which the Mekong River flows.

Editor and publisher Minh Bui Jones this week said The Mekong Review would differentiate itself on Southeast Asia’s crowded newsstand of English-language publications by resisting the ebb and flow of current affairs.

“We have more focus on literature. We’re more focused on quality writing, and we are a quarterly, therefore we take a bit longer to produce, to commission, to edit, to sub and to lay out. And in particular, we’re not topical.

Other magazines of a current affairs ilk peg their stories on news and events. We don’t.”

The launch issue of the print-only, tabloid-size magazine opens with a prickly review of The Idealist, UK historian Niall Ferguson’s biography of former US national security advisor Henry Kissinger, from Mario Del Pero, a professor of international history at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (SciencesPo).

“We lead the issue with that piece because it’s an important book written by a notable writer about a notable person [who had a big impact on the region], and reviewed by a notable expert in the field,” said Bui Jones.

Another of the highlights is an extract from a novella, l’Anarchiste, written in French by the Cambodian novelist Soth Polin in the 1970s and recently translated into English for the first time by Australian academic Penny Edwards.

Bui Jones described it as “a bit of a coup”.

“[Edwards] has given us a first taste of what it’s like,” he said. “It’s a beautiful piece of fiction. For me, this piece is really important because I want so much for Cambodians to read it and be inspired by it, hopefully, to write, so that later on we can also publish them as well.”

Bui Jones, a journalist who co-founded The Diplomat magazine, among others, is self-funding the Mekong Review and is realistic about its potential for success.

“If there’s a demand for it, it will survive,” he said. “If there isn’t, it will sink, like 99 per cent of magazines. I have no illusions that this is going to succeed. So I’ll be very surprised [if it does].

“That said, I’ve been in the business for a long time now, I have a string of failures to my name and also a string of success. I hope this will be in the latter category.

“But ask me in six months. I should have a better idea then.”

The Mekong Review is available at the KRWF. Email [email protected] to reserve a copy. It will be distributed via Monument Books outlets from the second issue.

MOST VIEWED

  • Malaysia MP accused of ‘influencing law’

    Malaysian Member of Parliament (MP) Larry Sng arrived in Siem Reap early on Wednesday, in what was slammed by one NGO as efforts by Kuala Lumpur to “influence Cambodian law”. The Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh requested on January 30 “cooperation from the Ministry of Foreign

  • Ministries begin measures to offset EU’s EBA decision

    In the wake of the EU’s controversial announcement this week that it has begun the withdrawal process for Cambodia’s Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential agreement, government ministries and political analysts continued to share their reactions and economic mitigation plans in preparation for the

  • Emirates launches route connecting Phnom Penh, Bangkok

    Emirates will launch a daily service on June 1 linking Phnom Penh (PNH) and Bangkok (BKK). The service from Phnom Penh to Dubai, via Bangkok, will provide more flight options to passengers travelling between the capitals of Cambodia and Thailand. Travellers from the Southeast Asian nations

  • US Embassy urged to stop ‘disrespecting sovereignty’

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation called on the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Saturday to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations after it called former opposition leader Kem Sokha “an innocent man” – a move deemed to be “disrespecting Cambodia’s