Tag Archives: Asia

On taboos, touring and cultural representation: Sight/Unseen Asian Drama Conference

(From Arts Equator. Link to the complete article given below)

The Sight/Unseen Asian Drama Conference was a two-day event on 26 – 27 April 2018 at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Tara Arts. Billed as an event to “tackle challenging issues facing playwrights in the UK and in Southeast Asia,” participants came all geared up to discuss issues ranging from minority representation to taboo subjects in the region. The conference was helmed by Cheryl Robson from Aurora Metro Books who, in her opening address, emphasised that the project was a labour of love that took her almost a year to complete. The first-of-its-kind conference also doubled up as a platform for Aurora Metro Books to launch its new collection, British East Asian Plays, which featured works from established playwrights such as Stephen Hoo, Lucy Chai Lai-Tuen, and Daniel York Loh who also served as panellists and participants of the conference.

Before the start of the Southeast Asian Plays and Touring panel discussion, participants noticed that something was amiss: there were supposed to be five panellists instead of four. Panel moderator Aubrey Mellor, Senior Fellow at LASALLE College of the Arts (Singapore), quickly addressed the issue: playwright Chhon Sina (Cambodia) was denied a visa from her home country to leave. You could almost see the thought bubbles emerging from everyone’s head.

The remaining panellists included Asa Palomera (Korea/USA), Joned Suryatmoko (Indonesia), Alfian Sa’at (Singapore) and Ann Lee (Malaysia): all leading playwrights in their respective countries and within Southeast Asia. Right from the get-go, Mellor pointed out that it is important to remember that the context of touring is vastly different in Asia than in western countries. It is important for us to remember that culture holds a greater standing in western countries like the United Kingdom as opposed to Asian countries (essentially Southeast Asia), whose main priorities are generally economy-inclined. Apart from Singapore, most Southeast Asian countries are generally struggling with different sets of issues, such as the political instability and corruption in Malaysia, which was later cited by Ann Lee. These factors ultimately lead to cut in funding towards the cultural sector, therefore making touring a non-feasible option for most artistic organisations. Secondly, there has been an issue of generalising Asia and Asian culture around the world. For example, Mellor explained that comparing the culture of Thailand and Japan and putting them under the classification of “Asian culture” is simply out of the question because of their stark differences. It is also important to point out that most western countries are still unable to identify the individual cultures in Southeast Asian countries today. Most of my friends, for instance, are unable to differentiate a Singaporean from a Cambodian, and regard “Asian culture” as ultimately a shared one across all the countries. Lastly, Mellor pointed out that there seems to be a lack of collaboration between Southeast Asian countries, with most of the collaborative efforts taking place between Malaysia and Singapore—mostly due to the geographical proximity and shared history. It is also important to note that Mellor’s preface was necessary since there is a persisting misconception that ‘Asian’ usually just refers to ‘South Asians’.

Read more at the Arts Equator link here

Call for submissions: The Best Asian Travel Writing 2019

The Best Asian Travel Writing series is the first of its kind, showcasing Asia’s finest travel writing. This second edition of TBATW is due for publishing in 2019.

We are looking for submissions from travel writers. The edition will choose the best twenty or so pieces from the submissions. By ‘Asian travel writers’, we mean all travel writers who belong to the continent of Asia, including the Middle East (West Asia).

We aim to amplify the voices of Asian writers in the field of travel writing and while priority will be given to authors who come from Asian countries, non-Asian authors who have resided in and written extensively about an Asian country will also be considered.

TBATW will include a wide variety of work that will capture the wonder, humour, fear and joy that greets us all every time when we travel. Importantly, it will also capture the frisson of excitement and uncertainty in the air when we embark on a journey to a new place, or even to a familiar one.

TBATW aims to corral stories on nature/conservation, cultural history, sociological and anthropological manifestations, the outdoors and adventure, gastronomy, and any other compelling idea you think that would meld into the edition and add to its freshness. Read more

Asia has a history of revisionism through literature

The controversy over school textbooks in South Korea, where government-revised teaching materials have been criticised for whitewashing the country’s mid-20th century autocratic rule, is a familiar story in East Asia. Neighbouring Japan is notorious for watering down its barbaric invasion and colonisation of parts of Asia in its textbooks. And, closer to home, the “national education” issue lingers in Hong Kong. Read more

Singapore’s Sara Adam Ang is the Asia regional winner for 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Sara-Ang-AdamCommonwealth Writers has announced the regional winners of the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. The Prize provides a platform for writers from the 53 countries of the Commonwealth to inspire others by bringing compelling short stories to a wider audience. This year unpublished stories were entered by nearly 4,000 writers from the five regions of the Commonwealth.

This year’s Chair is Ellah Allfrey, Deputy Chair of the Council of the Caine Prize and previously Deputy Editor of Granta and Senior Editor at Jonathan Cape, Random House.  The judges reflect the five regions:  Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, Caribbean, and the Pacific:  Doreen Baingana, (Africa), Michelle de Kretser (Pacific), Marlon James (Caribbean), Courttia Newland (Canada and Europe) and Jeet Thayil (Asia). Read more

Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival 2014

Asia House has partnered with the Bagri Foundation to create 2014’s Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival. Seeing key speakers, journalists and award-winning authors, the festival celebrates the cultural works and contributions of the Pan Asian community.

Hanif KureishiRunning between May 6 and 21, the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival will see a number of key events take place at Asia House, Rich Mix and London’s Southbank Centre.

From notable discussions and talks, audiences and avid literary fans will have the opportunity to learn more about the vibrant and colourful world of pan-Asian Literature and its specific cultural significances. Read more

A short look at the long literary history of spies in Asia

Paul French in LARB blog

One of the most noteworthy books set to hit the U.S. market next week is Olivia Milburn and Christopher Payne’s English translation of bestselling Chinese espionage author Mai Jia’s latest thriller, Decoded, which was published in other markets last year and has already generated a good deal of interest in the U.K.  This is just the latest development in a broader publishing tale: the resurgence of interest in Asia generally, and China specifically, as a settings for stories of intrigue. Read more

Remembering Jack London’s Oriental War

Paul French in the LARB Blog

Jack London’s time as a war correspondent in Asia has rather slipped from his popular biography. The “big books” (The Call of the WildWhite FangThe Sea-WolfThe Iron Heel), his leftist politics, the man’s-man adventurer persona — these are what have come to dominate.  The same goes for the conflagration he covered, the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05.  It, too, has rather slipped from history. It shouldn’t have. Indeed it should be front-and-center right now as we commemorate the centenary of World War I and, in some parts of Asia, as a recent post to this blog emphasized, attention is also being paid to the 120th anniversary of the 1894-95 Sino-Japanese War.  We need to make room for the big event that fell halfway between the two.  This month marks the 110th anniversary of still another war — one that not only shook the solidity of Western right and might (the first time an Asiatic power defeated a European one) but offered a first taste to the Generals and politicians of Europe and America of what the more globally famous and infamous modern, mechanized wars to come would look like.

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How children’s literature shapes attitudes to Asia

Australia’s relationship with Asia has always been a focus for heated debate and, often, misunderstanding. What role do books play in moulding this relationship?

A research project underway at the Queensland University of Technology seeks to answer that question by investigating the role of children’s literature in shaping young readers’ attitudes to Australia’s past, present and future relations with Asia. Read more

Essay: Japan–A Nation’s State by Pankaj Mishra

Pankaj Mishra

Pankaj Mishra

Pankaj Mishra explores Japan’s tormented relationship with its modernity in The Caravan

Tokyo these days looks like Asia’s oldest metropolis—at least to those accustomed to the shinier buildings, grander avenues, and the more garish newness of Shanghai. Compared to the upstart countries of Asia today, much of Japan presents a spectacle of aged modernity: brown plains marked by a clutter of small houses, and crisscrossed by giant power pylons. Even the wild beauty of the country’s coastal areas is now touched, after the nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima, with menace. And it is with some shock that you recall that Japan was where once the future lay, before its bubble burst in the early 1990s, and the country, pushed inward by adversity, became a strange absence in our lives. Read more

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