top of page
5.45pm, Thur 4 July

@ Sydney University

SBJ book render low res.jpeg


Salleh Ben Joned: Truth, Beauty, Amok and Belonging (Maya Press, 2023) shines a spotlight, for the first time, on the world view of one of Malaysia's beloved poets and public intellectuals (find out more about Salleh here).

In this 256-page book, Anna Salleh explores her late father's literary journey and legacy by combining a selection of his poems, prose and personal correspondence with stories about his relationships with others. The book also features over 170 images and a selection of work by younger generations inspired by Salleh Ben Joned.


FOR AUSTRALIAN SALES (and all countries other than Malaysia), please contact me.



Gerakbudaya Bookshop - Penang

Gerakbudaya PJ


Riwayat Bookshop


Also available through Shopee and Lazada and YouBeli

Stay tuned to Salleh Ben Joned's Facebook Page for news about book launches and more.

For further information please contact me.



Salleh Ben Joned has been described in many ways - from 'uncrowned poet laureate' to the 'bad boy' of Malaysian literature, with some detractors accusing him of being anti-Malay. But Salleh's work went beyond labels. He always had a strong sense of the absurd as he used his brutal honesty to challenge taboos on race, religion, language and identity, in the context of post-colonial nation-building. Leaning heavily on the power of satire, encouraged by a decade spent in Australia, Salleh prodded the comfortable posturing of powerful elites with playful humour. In both English and Malay, Salleh also celebrated the mystical, the sensual, the earthy beauty—and terror—of life itself. From Hobart to Kuala Lumpur, he pushed beyond conformist boundaries and paid the price. Salleh was an explorer of ideas, a critical thinker, an innovator of language, and was utterly in love with books and writing. When his brain fired with inspiration, he would make deep connections and reach with urgency for the nearest notebook—or paper napkin—to jot down thoughts for his next poem or essay. Salleh's love affair with words extended to the art of handwriting and calligraphy, and to dramatic performance—both as a poet and as an actor.  He drew on all the streams of his being—from his village childhood to his deep knowledge of world literature—to express a Malay identity that was life-affirming, inclusive, sensual and fun. He rejected fake piety and materialism and saw God in both the sacred and the profane. While Salleh was most active from the 1970s to the 1990s, his work continues to ignite creativity and curiosity among generations of people today in Malaysia and beyond. 

"It’s a treasure for generations of Malaysians. The spirit and poetry of Salleh Ben Joned is life-giving."

- Sharon Chin, artist

"Brilliant, utterly compelling... This is essential reading."

- Gareth Richards, researcher, writer, editor and founder of Gerakbudaya Bookshop - Penang

"... Sepucuk surat cinta seorang anak perempuan kepada ayahnya.
Ia juga surat cinta kita kepada salah seorang penulis Malaysia yang ulung — Salleh Ben Joned. Naskhah ini merupakan antara naskhah paling penting pernah diterbitkan dalam dekad ini bagi dunia perpuisian Malaysia. Penyajak muda wajib membaca Anna Salleh seiring karya Salleh Ben Joned."
- Jack Malik, Penyajak, Projek Rabak

“Meticulously compiled and written by his devoted daughter, Anna Salleh … not just an expert, but passionate about her subject.
- Ramli Ibrahim, Sutra Foundation

"This book is beautifully put together and deeply moving. To read of Salleh's journey is very inspiring and the theme of Malaysia as home, and Malay as truer tongue is so timely for me. Only a few weeks ago, I unpacked my sarongs, which had been in storage for years. It will be my holy book, and my mataharistiwa as I navigate the future."
- Isaac Entry, Creative

"The book gives testament to... recalcitrance? Degil-ness? of love? of.. sweaty soil, thighs wrapped in sarong, sambal belacan, rantau abang janda baik batang berjuntai, realness the amok that sits just below the gut, not just of SBJ but his friends too, giants Usman Awang, Syed Alwi, Latiff Mohidin, Lat. There's a baton being passed..."

- Yee I-Lann, artist


Salleh Ben Joned: A Most Unlikely Malay

Salleh Ben Joned was a witty, fearless and charismatic poet and writer that some called the ‘bad boy of Malaysian literature’. He was an iconoclast: an incendiary critical with satirical with, a libertarian public intellectual known for challenging taboos about race, religion, sexuality and a whole lot more. By the time of his death in 2020 he had become a bit of underground 'legend' among a younger generation of artists and intellectuals.

In this two-part documentary series, aired just before Salleh passed away, his eldest daughter Anna takes us on a wild ride through the life and times of her infuriating yet utterly loveable father.

In Part 1 of 2 we hear about the influential decade the young Salleh spent in Australia where, among other things, he was a Colombo Plan scholar mentored by the controversial poet James McAuley at the University of Tasmania.

In Part 2 of 2 Anna charts her father’s return to Malaysia. Having blossomed into an ardent champion of free expression, how would he carve out a creative and intellectual life for himself in his increasingly conservative home country? And how would Anna navigate the extreme emotional highs and lows of her father’s journey?

Anchor 1

Healing the trauma of the Stolen Generations

In Australia there are an estimated 17,000 Stolen Generations survivors, and a lack of culturally relevant mental health services is a major barrier to healing for many of them. Now programs led by Indigenous communities themselves are helping people to confront and move past their trauma. We talk with Stolen Generations survivor Aunty Lorraine Peeters, whose life experience led to a pioneering healing program, and became part of a groundswell of Indigenous-led solutions to address trauma. And Indigenous psychologist Kelleigh Ryan describes the challenges to supporting culturally appropriate healing. Presented as part of Reconciliation Week 2020, and the ABC's Walking Together initiative.

Anchor 2

How two short words triggered a racism reckoning for plant scientists
Thousands of the world’s plant scientists were due to land in tropical Cairns for a major international conference in October.

It was a big deal and worth big dollars for the local economy.

But then two words on Twitter triggered a major reckoning on race and racism. 

What went wrong, what can be learnt, and what might it mean for international and Australian science?

In a Science Friction exclusive, how a growing global justice movement is challenging scientists to think and do things differently.

Anchor 3
Anchor 4

Matty's Story - donor conception and the cost of secrecy

A candid, moving story of family, genetics, and what defines kinship.

Matty was on the cusp of adulthood, all set to move out of home and head to university to study psychology.

Then Matty’s parents, Eveline and Tony, called a family meeting. They'd waited a long time to tell their two children what they had to say. What has followed is much soul searching, reconfigured relationships, feelings of anger, loss and guilt – but also much love and care. Matty and parents share their story publicly for the first time.

Anchor 5

The man in a dress: who were the real luddites?

"Don't be such a luddite!" Ouch. In the uber-shiny, uber-connected 21st century, that's the ultimate insult.
At face value it implies you're backward and behind the times...anti-technology, anti-innovation and anti-progress.
But who were the real 'luddites'? Does their legacy live on today? And is there a better way to talk about technological anxieties without all the name-calling? A chance to channel you're inner-Ludd...go on, you know you want to.
We're dipping our toe into the past, then hurtling towards the present.

Is your house making you sick? Endocrine disrupting chemicals

Could the everyday objects in your life be making you sick, fat or infertile? Chemicals called endocrine disruptors have crept int o plastic packaging, kid's toys, detergents, building materials, even your favourite couch. They can interact with your body's hormonal system and some scientists are concerned about their impacts on y9ur health. But where's the science at, and should you be concerned? Science Friction takes you inside a family home in search of these biochemical tricksters ... and beyond.

Anchor 6

Brazil Calling

Musician Anna Salleh was first captivated by the magic of Brazilian music as a child, when she saw the film Black Orpheus.  The call of Brazil was so strong that Anna packed up her guitar and travelled to the birthplace of bossa nova, hoping to explore the musical heritage of standards like The Girl from Ipanema. Her quest was to scratch below the Western cocktail-lounge image to discover the musical qualities that make up an authentic Brazilian sound.On the streets and in the clubs of Rio she discovered a diverse and exciting musical culture of choro, samba and other styles.  She sought out pioneers of the bossa nova movement like Roberto Menescal and Mauricio Einhorn, who told her about the roots of their music and what makes it so alluring. And along the way, she was given tips on how to improve her own interpretations of the music. Spurred on by her Brazilian host, philosopher and music-lover, Luiz Carlos de Oliveira e Silva, Anna broadened her repertoire and took on the challenge of learning new rhythms, finally to perform some of her newly-learnt songs at a Copacabana jazz club.

Anchor 7
bottom of page