A pattern I’m noticing from your postings on the B:Read Bookswap group/fan page and your attendance during our bookswaps is your interest in Asian literature. Where does the fascination come from?
What I actually enjoy are books with rich cultural setting – preferably traditional and definitely historical. Asian, because it’s our heritage – it’s interesting to learn why we, coming from and living amongst multi-ethic families and communities, think and behave in certain ways.
My Asian fascination began after I watched The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan in the 90s – then read the book. My favorite parts was where she described the lives of the 4 women in China in the early 1900s. It’s like reading a history, cultural, travel, language and cook book all at once!
Since her, I have always seek other Asian authors and was happy to discover Amitav Ghosh, an Indian author. In fact, I am currently alternating between my 3rd Amitav Ghosh and 5th Amy Tan!
I have not been exposed to a lot of Asian literature, but more with literature written by white people who lived in Asia. For myself, personally, I’m more in touch with non-fiction regarding Southeast Asia than the fiction. What does Asian literature offer more to you that you cannot find in the environment you live in?
Asia is such a fascinating continent – with the different tribes, way of living, traditions, customs, history etc. I am more partial to Asian culture in fiction setting as oppose to other equally fascinating cultures e.g. South Americans or Africans because it is easier to relate to them.
It’s like reading a non-fiction on cultural/historical studies but in selected and most interesting doses that later on, if I so incline, I can research further once I have finished the fiction – and most of the time, I do that. I get lead on names of tribes or towns or traditions and I will do a quick read up. One interesting thing I learn was that headhuntings are not limited to Borneo – there are many other tribes that do this in the olden days, and I find this sort of information fascinating!
And I must clarify that I am not interested in Asian literatures that are Westernized – no characters in Gucci outfit sipping latte in a Starbucks cafe somewhere in Singapore because this scene is “us” now – I’m not interested to read about us.