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Sinophone Malaysian Literature: Not Made in China By Alison M. Groppe ...

Chapter 1:  Introduction
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Sinophone Malaysian Literature:

Chapter 1

Introduction

“Not Infertile Territory”

A famous comment Salman Rushdie once made about writers of Indian descent living in Britain did much to inspire this project: “Our identity is at once plural and partial. Sometimes we feel that we straddle two cultures; at other times, that we fall between two stools. But however ambiguous and shifting this ground may be, it is not infertile territory for a writer to occupy” (1991, 15). In this book, I examine the texts and practices of a group of contemporary authors of Chinese descent who were all born in Malaysia and write in Chinese. Their circumstances do not strictly parallel those that Rushdie described, but his observation aptly conveys both the benefits and challenges of being a Malaysia-born, Chinese-language author. To start with the positive aspects, the identities of the authors under consideration here are similarly plural in that they were born in Malaysia and their family lineages have historical ties to China. They also write within and from that “not infertile territory” between cultures, or to be more precise, between different sets of cultural resources, some related to Malaysia and Southeast Asia, some related to China and Taiwan. In aspiring to straddle multiple cultures in their