The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet – Aristotle
The theme for the 2018 D.K. Dutt Award for Literary Excellence was knowledge and education and Bitter Root Sweet Fruit pulls together the best stories submitted for the competition and includes the winning entry by Bathmaloshanee M., and stories by runners-up Ling Low and Sumitra Selvaraj.
Here are stories about teachers, sometimes wise and caring, but more often deeply flawed and of young people struggling to obtain an education against the odds. Whether it is learning to make the perfect chicken curry or coming to terms with important life truths these Malaysian writers, both new and established, share stories that are fresh and inventive.
A dock brief pupil gains an uncomfortable insight into how the poor are disadvantaged in the legal system; a young man learns how to become a confidence trickster; and a small boy goes on a cosmic journey to learn the answer to his question about a Hindu deity. Elsewhere a mother teaches her child in an underground bunker; a medical student struggles to acquire the manual dexterity she needs to become a doctor; and a speech therapist longs to reach out to a handicapped boy kept locked in a shed by his parents.
The book celebrates the life of D K Dutt who was himself a passionate teacher.