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Not at Home in Singaporean and Malaysian Literature
The literature of Malaysia and Singapore, the multicultural epicenter of Asia, offers a rich body of source material for appreciating the intellectual heritage of colonial and postcolonial Southeast Asia. Focusing on themes of home and belong, Eddie Tay illuminates many aspects of identity anxiety experienced in the region, and helps construct a dialogue between postcolonial theory and the Anglophone literatures of Singapore and Malaysia. A chronologically ordered selection of texts is examined, including Swettenham, Bird, Maugham, Burgess, and Thumboo. The genealogy of works includes travel writings and sketches as well as contemporary diasporic novels by Malaysian and Singapore-born authors based outside their countries of origin. The premise is that home is a physical space as well as a symbolic terrain invested with social, political and cultural meanings. As discussions of politics and history argument close readings of literary works, the book should appeal not only to scholars of literature, but also to scholars of Southeast Asian politics and history.
The Singaporean/Malaysian Novel
The Different Voices: Singaporean/Malaysian Novel, focuses on the challenges that face a novelist in the literary representation of a multilingual environment. The early writers used strategies like vernacular transcription and mimetic translation. However, the close readings of twelve selected novels by non-European writers from 1980 to 2001 indicate the increasing use of strategies like lexical borrowings, code mixing, code switching and varieties of Singapore-Malayan English, instead. Puthucheary asserts in her book that the methods of language appropriation have a direct connection to how the writer conveys the multilingual nature of the Singapore-Malayan society through the speaking person while developing the central theme of the novel. The book maps out the verbal artistic representation of the speaking person and the correlation between speech and character in a multilingual environment.
Environmental Crises and East Asian Literatures
East Asian literatures are famous for celebrating the beauties of nature and depicting people as intimately connected with the natural world. But in fact, because the region has a long history of transforming and exploiting nature, much of the fiction and poetry in the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages portrays people as damaging everything from small woodlands to the entire planet. These texts seldom talk about environmental crises straightforwardly. Instead, like much creative writing on degraded ecosystems, they highlight what Karen Laura Thornber calls ecoambiguity—the complex, contradictory interactions between people and the nonhuman environment. Ecoambiguity is the first book in any language to analyze Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese literary treatments of damaged ecosystems. Thornber closely examines East Asian creative portrayals of inconsistent human attitudes, behaviors, and information concerning the environment and takes up texts by East Asians who have been translated and celebrated around the world, including Gao Xingjian, Ishimure Michiko, Jiang Rong, and Ko Un, as well as fiction and poetry by authors little known even in their homelands. Ecoambiguity addresses such environmental crises as deforesting, damming, pollution, overpopulation, species eradication, climate change, and nuclear apocalypse. This book opens new portals of inquiry in both East Asian literatures and ecocriticism (literature and environment studies), as well as in comparative and world literature.
Romancing Languages, Cultures and Genres
Eileen Chang (1920–1995) is arguably the most perceptive writer in modern Chinese literature. She was one of the most popular writers in 1940s Shanghai, but her insistence on writing about individual human relationships and mundane matters rather than revolutionary and political movements meant that in mainland China, she was neglected until very recently. Outside the mainland, her life and writings never ceased to fascinate Chinese readers. There are hundreds of works about her in the Chinese language but very few in other languages. This is the first work in English to explore her earliest short stories as well as novels that were published posthumously. It discusses the translation of her stories for film and stage presentation, as well as nonliterary aspects of her life that are essential for a more comprehensive understanding of her writings, including her intense concern for privacy and enduring sensitivity to her public image. The thirteen essays examine the fidelity and betrayals that dominate her alter ego’s relationships with parents and lovers, informed by theories and methodologies from a range of disciplines including literary, historical, gender, and film studies. These relationships are frequently dramatized in plays and filmic translations of her work.
Cognitive and Cultural Studies of Literary Tradition and Colonialism
In Empire and Poetic Voice Patrick Colm Hogan draws on a broad and detailed knowledge of Indian, African, and European literary cultures to explore the way colonized writers respond to the subtle and contradictory pressures of both metropolitan and indigenous traditions. He examines the work of two influential theorists of identity, Judith Butler and Homi Bhabha, and presents a revised evaluation of the important Nigerian critics, Chinweizu, Jemie, and Madubuike. In the process, he presents a novel theory of literary identity based equally on recent work in cognitive science and culture studies. This theory argues that literary and cultural traditions, like languages, are entirely personal and only appear to be a matter of groups due to our assertions of categorical identity, which are ultimately both false and dangerous.
Gender and Story in South India presents exciting ethnographic research by Indian women scholars on Hindu and Muslim women-centered oral narratives. The book is unique for its geographic and linguistic focus on South India, for its inclusion of urban and rural locales of narration, and for its exploration of shared Hindu and Muslim female space. Drawing on the worldviews of South Indian female narrators in both everyday and performative settings, the contributors lead readers away from customary and comfortable assumptions about gender distinctions in India to experience a more dialogical, poetically ordered moral universe that is sensitive to women’s material and spiritual lives.
Comprehensive overview of the work of Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh.
A Japanese American Memoir
Originally published in 1932, Kathleen Tamagawa’s pioneering Asian American memoir is a sensitive and thoughtful look at the personal and social complexities of growing up racially mixed during the early twentieth century. Born in 1893 to an Irish American mother and a Japanese father and raised in Chicago and Japan, Tamagawa reflects on the difficulty she experienced fitting into either parent’s native culture.
She describes how, in America, her every personal quirk and quality was seen as quintessentially Japanese and how she was met unpredictably with admiration or fear—perceived as a “Japanese doll” or “the yellow menace.” When her family later moved to Japan, she was viewed there as a “Yankee,” and remained an outsider in that country as well. As an adult she came back to the United States as an American diplomat’s wife, but had trouble feeling at home in any place.
This edition, which also includes Tamagawa’s recently rediscovered short story, “A Fit in Japan,” and a critical introduction, will challenge readers to reconsider how complex ethnic identities are negotiated and how feelings of alienation limit human identification in any society.
Short Stories by Leung Ping-kwan
In this kaleidoscope of stories, translated from the Chinese, P.K. Leung, one of Hong Kong's most celebrated literary figures, presents his personal vision of the city, evoking in his inimitable voice the local and international dimensions of this extraordinary place, capturing its poignant ambivalence as a postcolonial territory on the fringe of China.
Word, Image, and City in Early Chinese Newspapers, 1870-1910
Joining the Global Public examines early Chinese-language newspapers and analyzes their impact on China’s modernization. Exploring a range of media such as regular dailies, illustrated weeklies, and entertainment papers, contributors look at factors that influenced the nature of these publications, including foreign models, foreign managers, and a first generation of Chinese journalists, editorialists, and “newspainters.” With analyses demonstrating how the growth of popular media would enable China to join the global public, contributors also examine the impact of inserting an alien medium—a newspaper—into a Chinese universe and note the spread of new attitudes and values as entertainment papers filled the space of a newly created urban leisure. A superb and pioneering documentation of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Chinese-language media, Joining the Global Public serves as an introduction to this important yet little-studied part of China’s modernization.