Friday, March 14, 2008

Asian Focus too Narrow

Tan Twan Eng has recently been touring the literary festivals in Australia, Hong Kong and China to promote The Gift of Rain and here tells James Pomfret of Reuters (in a piece that I hope publishers and agents will read!) that he welcomes the growing recognition for Asian writers in the West, but says the spotlight on Chinese writers is a concern since it means that talented Southeast Asian voices were increasingly being overlooked. :
You've seen publishers and even agents opening offices in China ... but they seem to have ignored places like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. ... Obviously, the interest in Asian writing helps somebody like me, but we sort of feel we're on the edge, the outskirts ... A lot of the publishers have no real awareness of Southeast Asia.
He also said that :
... other domestic factors were inhibiting writers in his native Malaysia, including the lack of government support, ethnic tensions and censorship. ... The political situation in Malaysia makes it difficult to write about a lot of things because it's such a multiracial country. You have to be really sensitive to what you say.
And about his nomination for the Booker :
There was a sense of nationalist pride. I was very happy that I could say yes, I'm a Malaysian and on the longlist.
A sense of pride of course for us too.

(Photo from PhotoSA on flickr)

1 comment:

The One and Only said...

Hi, I agree and disagree with what he said. Yes Malaysia is such a multiracial country but that should not be an excuse or reason not to write about a lot of things if we focus on the positive side. Unless if we write with an intension to hurt other ethnic groups. The fact that there are so many different cultures around should give us endless topics to write about. Mahani.