Sinophone Malaysian Literature: Not Made in China

by Alison M. Groppe


"Sinophone literatures from Southeast Asia have long been doubly marginalised: they have been deemed ‘sectional’ literatures, produced in languages other than the national language, and thus for consumption by minority populations only. At the same time, they were regarded as derivative texts, far removed from the centre of cultural production in China. At least with regard to the latter aspect, the situation has changed dramatically with the rise of the Sinophone as a critical paradigm, which has recently been declared an ‘Idea of the Decade’ by the American Comparative Literature Association. With an outpouring of new, innovative research and a flurry of publications, Southeast Asia has very much become the centre of critical inquiry in Chinese literary studies. Alison Groppe’s timely new book is an important addition to this rapidly growing literature. Importantly, Groppe’s well-researched study moves beyond the larger horizon of the ‘Sinophone’ by zooming in onto one particularly vibrant literature, that produced by authors born in colonial Malaya or independent Malaysia. ... Sinophone Malaysian Literature provides us with the much-needed basis for further explorations of the literary and cultural landscape of Southeast Asia. This insightful, detailed, and knowledgeable study will appeal to students and scholars of Chinese literature and culture, diasporic literature, and Southeast Asian studies." —Journal of Southeast Asian Studies

"This is the first English-language monograph devoted exclusively to Chinese-language writings hailing from Malaysia, the literary stronghold of huayu-speaking Southeast Asia. It is a timely and lucid reference work on the vibrant Sinophone Malaysian literary world, its intellectual history, aesthetic practices, and intersecting literary genealogies. ... Groppe's commendable coverage of the history, literature, and identity politics relevant to the Sinophone experience in British Malaya and contemporary Malaysia allows future researchers to delve into areas yet untapped or just gaining notice. ... Groppe's monograph is a valuable addition not only to the emergent body of Sinophone studies scholarship, but also to the wider discursive arenas of comparative and world literature, where writings by Sinophone Southeast Asians have been traditionally underrepresented or subsumed under the category of Chinese literature. Both literary scholars and those broadly interested in the history of Chinese migration and global Sinophone cultures will find this work engaging and richly informative." —MCLC

"Exceptionally well-researched ... Moving beyond the chestnuts of Eurocentrism and Malaycentrism, Groppe advances into a fresh exploration of the benefits and challenges of being a Sinophone author ... Groppe discusses the burden on writers in reflecting the experience and uncertain cultural identification of Malaysia's Cantonese, Hokkien, and Hakka dialect/"topolect" communities ... Recommended." - CHOICE

"Participating in the ongoing paradigm shift toward a global conception of Chinese literature and culture, Alison M. Groppe’s well-researched Sinophone Malaysian Literature: Not Made in China offers an excellent overview not only of salient works from a fascinating corpus that has thus far eluded English-language scholarship, but also of the lineage of approaches critical for grasping the larger ramifications arising from its anomalous status as “sectional literature” in Malaysia, where only literary works written in the national language of Malay are recognized as “national literature.” ... With its comprehensive coverage, focused treatment, and lucid exposition, Sinophone Malaysian Literature marks a key reference volume in the English language on the topic. Not only does it succeed in pluralizing the scholarship on the Chinese overseas and modern Chinese literature, it also urges deeper dialogue with other fields of knowledge such as human geography and Southeast Asian Studies. ... [this] laudable book-length study has laid a solid foundation upon which scholars can investigate further to yield fresher insights about the uneasy making of modern Sinophone Southeast Asian subjects and their hybrid cultural identities." - Southeast Asian Studies


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