Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof has worked on various genres: poetry, drama, the short story and essays. His first forays into creative writing came when he was an undergraduate at the University of Malaya; here came his first exposure to Malaysian-Singapore writing as well as to literatures from the rest of the world. While attracted to a number of western writers, poets in particular, and certainly influenced by them, he discovered other literatures, as well as the cultures that shaped those literatures. He has always been impressed by classical literary traditions, eastern and western, by South Asian, Middle Eastern and Persian writing. At the same time realism and post-realistic movements, particularly in theatre, shaped his plays and short stories.


Perfumed Memories (Singapore: Graham Brash Pte Ltd., 1982) is Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof’s first collection of poems. His latest poems can be found in Mirror of a Hundred Hues: A Miscellany (Penang: The Asian Centre, 2001).
Random poems have appeared in the following journals:

  • Lidra (Kuala Lumpur)
  • Mele (Honolulu)
  • Impulse (Honolulu)
  • Pacific Quarterly (Hamilton, New Zealand)
  • Dewan Sastera (Kuala Lumpur)
  • Solidarity (Manila)

His poems have also been included in the following anthologies:

  • Thumboo, Edwin (ed). The Second Tongue: An Anthology of Poetry from Malaysia and Singapore. Singapore: Heinemann, 1976.
  • Hashmi, Alamgir (ed). The Worlds of Muslim Imagination. Islambad: Gulmohar, 1986.
  • Malachi, Edwin (ed). Insight: Malaysian Poems. Petaling Jaya: Maya Press, 2003.
  • Maya Press. The Spirit of the Keris. Petaling Jaya: Maya Press, 2003.
  • Rosli Talif and Noritah Omar (ed). Petals of Hibiscus: A Representative Anthology of Malaysian Literature in English. Petaling Jaya: Pearsons Malaysia Sdn Bhd, 2003.

Short Stories

Malaysian writers have principally explored the lives of their own communities, and the communities they understand best for reasons that are quite obvious. Thus the minor communities do not appear in Malaysia’s short fiction. Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof’s short stories fill this gap to some extent due to his own origins and cultural background. While Malay- Indonesian characters are given central roles in some of them, for the first time Punjabi (Pakistani, Sikh and Hindu) as well as Tamil Muslim (Mamak) characters are given a voice, most of them in a Penang setting.

Lottery Ticket, Birthday, Tok Dalang and Dewi Ratnasari in Mirror of a Hundred Hues: A Miscellany. Penang: The Asian Centre, 2001.

Lake Gardens II
Taiping Lake Gardens II


Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof’s dramatic works include both short as well as three full-length works: Halfway Road, Penang, The Trial of Hang Tuah the Great and Suvarnapadma or Golden Lotus. The best known of these is Halfway Road Penang, dealing with certain inter-racial issues. This play as been produced in Penang and at the University of Hawaii, and has been published. The Trial of Hang Tuah the Great is a controversial piece dealing with the theme of the hero in Malay society, while Suvarnapadma touches upon issues connected with artistic freedom.

Small Business Loan

Essays/ Lectures

Translations/ Adaptations

  • The Mak Yong play “Raja Tangkai Hati” translated from Malay into English and adapted for a production at the Kennedy Theatre, University of Hawaii, 1973.
  • Kalidasa’ “Shakuntala”, translated for a production done in Kuala Lumpur by the Temple of Fine Arts, Kuala Lumpur, 1982.
  • Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex”. Rewritten in modern English and adapted, 1987.

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