Four Southeast Asian Writers Talk Language, Identity, and Culture

“If there’s one thing that archipelagoes have, it’s boundaries — natural boundaries,” said Harold Augenbraum, the American writer and editor. “But there are different kinds of boundaries: administrative, familial, linguistic, racial — [and] even the concept of taste.”

Augenbraum’s words framed a discussion, one he moderated at Asia Society on Thursday, that explored the concept of boundaries at great length. Four award-winning writers — the Philippine-born Gina Apostol and Jessica Hagedorn, and the Singaporeans Alfian Sa’at and Jeremy Tiang — read excerpts from their work and then talked about their upbringings and creative processes. One theme expressed by all was the role of multiculturalism and the divisions within their respective countries. For Hagedorn and Apostol, these issues are further complicated by their residence in the United States. Read more