“I shall never forget those two solemn minutes on the Saturday morning: then it was I saw him – the man I had been looking for and never hoped to meet again.”
They are an unlikely pair; Lescale, a man who “had lost faith, love, and even self-respect”: Rolain, a risk-taker and lover of life. It is Rolain who, during a chance meeting in a shell-hole during World War I, tells Lescale stories “of far off lands that he had known”. When the war ends, Lescale journeys half way across the world to Malaya where, three years later, he has an unexpected reunion with Rolain. Now the owner of a rubber plantation, Rolain takes Lescale under his wing and introduces him to the soul of Malaya: its people.
The Soul of Malaya is one of those rare novels that is on one level an absorbing drama and on another level, a social commentary. Henri Fauconnier won France’s highest literary award, the Prix Goncourt, for Malaisie, the original French title of this novel.
“One finds on almost every page of his novel spontaneity and intimacy, an urgent confession, a burning testimony. […] Malaisie stands by itself as a great achievement, unique in its kind, convincing through its fresh ideology and the sheer force of the passions which it contains.” – New York Herald Tribune