Heidi Munan was born in Switzerland and educated in New Zealand. A graduate post-primary teacher, she has lived in Sarawak since 1965.
Heidi Munan is fond of reading, particularly old books about the history and geography of Southeast Asia. When her children were young, their grandmother used to tell them stories; this developed the author’s interest in folk tales. She has written books about the daily life, customs, arts and handicrafts of her home state.
Heidi Munan does research at the Sarawak Museum. She is a regular contributor to national and foreign newspapers and publications, including the MAS inflight magazine Going Places.
The small town of Dalat lies on the Oya River. It is a peaceful, pretty place. The people there farm and fish and work all week. At festival time they have fun and visit each other’s houses.
And so it happened. Nobody talks about the war between brothers and the blood in the streets nowadays. But the people of Dalat know the value of peace and friendship. They have never forgotten.
How Dalat got its name:
“This was once a happy village. Now it is a place of death. Blood was spilt in the village street. The smell of death is in the air. Black flies are everywhere. I will call this village Dalat, flies, so nobody shall ever forget!”
The layman’s plot: Village Chief dies without naming his successor among three sons. Wise Eldest Son should be chief by custom, but Brave Second Son challenges the rule and tries to take over. This family conflict causes a divide in the village. Will enemies take advantage of the situation?
Verdict: Simple folk tale, with its typical moral ending. But a nice quick read nevertheless.