How Amir Muhammad redefined Malaysian publishing

AmirMuhammad230314Established in 2011 by writer and independent filmmaker Amir Muhammad, Buku Fixi has become a rare success story in the publishing industry. Its Malay-language urban contemporary novels are a fixture on local bestseller lists. Written in the pulp fiction, noir, horror, crime and thriller genres, many of the novels are brimming with slang and bahasa celupar, making Buku Fixi a distinctive brand of books.

Since its inception, Buku Fixi has branched out into other aspects of publishing, with several other labels under the Fixi umbrella. These include Fixi Retro (which publishes out-of-print Malay books), Fixi Verso (translations of bestsellers), Fixi Novo (English language books) and Fixi Mono (non-fiction).

Amir tells me that he was inspired to create Buku Fixi after attending a local book awards ceremony. According to him, nine out of ten of the Malay fiction nominees had either the words ‘rindu’, ‘kasih’ or ‘cinta’ in their titles.

“I just felt like throwing up!” Amir quips. “I thought, there’s got to be more to life than this! If I were a young person, and were to look at that selection, there was nothing there that appealed to me. And based on that, I decided to start a label.”

A lofty ambition; especially since Amir was already managing Matahari Books, another publishing company that dealt in Malaysian non-fiction books.

“I thought Fixi would be just a side thing. Not so regular, like just one title a month. I didn’t expect it to be so big. I thought I could still run two companies at once,” Amir says.

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