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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

NOVEMBER 19, 1999 VOL. 25 NO. 46

Book Ends
What is the future of Asian literature: Is there one? Will it be in English? Some views
By ANDREW SUN

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Sussy Komala
Chinese-Indonesian writer based in New York and Hong Kong

I believe Asia can define a global literary voice for the 21st century that will likely be revolutionary. The relative wealth of the Tiger economies and the modernity that is Asia have created societies quite different from contemporary British, American or European societies. That perspective will seep into any literary pursuit, in English and Asian languages."

Lan Ai Trinh
A journalist/writer based in Ho Chi Minh City currently finishing her memoirs titled A Little Exile

The topics of Asian literature in English have been rather limited. Often you can't remove the 'Asianness' from the writers. But in time there'll be a generation of Asian writers who once having explored their own ethnicity can write about other things. Like Spike Lee had to make 'black' films before he could move on."

Shirley Lim
Malaysian-educated author and former English professor at U.C. Santa Barbara, who has lived in Singapore

Asian literature is a huge category. It is impossible to generalize on such a diverse body of works. Asia is not one homogenous space. Pursuing a literary career anywhere in the world is difficult. The critical question is of readership. Even Asian readers are not reading Asian classics. How many Indian readers are familiar with The Dream of the Red Chamber? How many Chinese have read the Ramayana? How do we educate a readership for great literature from Asia?"

Jim Wong-Chu
Editor-in-chief of Rice Paper, a journal of the Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop

Asian writing is hot right now. It's easier to get published than any time in the past. Interestingly, however, most Asia writing [in English] is published either in New York, England or from a university publishing source. But still there's not enough Asian literature to make a great difference. And it's largely 'studied' rather than bought as entertainment."

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