(Tales of Ogonshoto ) exemplifies Anwar Ridhwan at his best in terms of stories or tales told, and in terms of his craftsmanship. The collection contains ten short stories, excluding the "Prologue" and "Epilogue" .The "Prologue" tells the story of Kawai Maru, a ship plying the ocean around the Republic of Ogonshoto. Kawai Maru is peopled by the captain, Mr. Kawai, and his many sailors. In this floating island, they entertain themselves by recounting the tales they heard when on shore, or the tales which their mothers told them, which, now, in the wide expanse of water, they recall and retell to their friends. The collection ends with an "Epilogue" , aptly entitled "Tsunami" -a tsunami which occurred, affected and forever changed the many lives on board (not only) Kawai Maru but another ship, as described in short story number ten, entitled "The Ship" .
Each of this short story stands independently as its own unique story .But the stories are also linked and interlinked by being geographically located within the Republic of Ogonshoto. In this collection Anwar Ridhwan revels in being a master story-teller.
Anwar went back to the basics of telling a story. The stories are simple, with simple, straightforward themes of power, the abuse of power, of love and lust, of human survival and the strength of the human spirit as it confronts all odds.
These stories are, on a simplified level, then told in a simple, straightforward manner of cause and effect. Or so it seems. For embedded and deeply structured within this seeming simplicity lies Anwar's mastery and interpolation of his sophisticated craftsmanship. It would seem that in this collection, tales and the method of telling meet, merge and empower each other in varying degrees of parallel and contrapuntal juxtapositions.
Always the leitmotif seems to be about power and how it can be used or abused, as the case might be. The stories in the collection almost always have an interesting twist which makes the reader ponder and wonder about what has happened and how or why it happened the way it happened. Like watching an interesting, all-consuming play, the reader would want to find out how the next story will be, not only in terms of the tale but also of how the tale is going to be told.
Prologue - Kawai Maru
2. The General
3. A Disguise
5. The Game
6. The Interpreter
7. The Vulture
9. The Camera
10. The Ship
Epilogue - Tsunami