16 February 2023 at 5:17:04 pm
Prof. Darryl Whetter was the inaugural director of the first Creative Writing master's degree in Singapore, in a degree conferred by Goldsmiths, Univ. of London. A Canadian, he is the author of nine books of fiction, poetry and writing pedagogy. His most recent books are the climate-crisis novel Our Sands, from Penguin, and Teaching Creative Writing in Asia, from Routledge.
Zafar Anjum is a Singapore-based writer, publisher and filmmaker and the author of The Resurgence of Satyam, Startup Capitals: Discovering the Global Hotspots of Innovation, and Iqbal: The Life of a Poet, Philosopher and Politician. His short story collections include The Singapore Decalogue and Kafka in Ayodhya and Other Stories.
Suzanne Kamata, an American, has lived in Japan for over thirty years. Her writing has appeared in The Best Asian Short Stories 2017 and The Best Asian Travel Writing 2020, The APWT Drunken Boat Anthology of New Writing, Telltale Food: Writings from the Fay Khoo Award 2017-2019 and numerous other anthologies. Her most recent novel is The Baseball Widow.
Can/Cannot, Lah: On Anthologizing Asia: Notes from The Best Asian Short Stories 2022
anthology, Asian short story, postcolonial, best
Professor Darryl Whetter, PhD, Editor;
Suzanne Kamata, MFA, Contributor,
and Zafar Anjun, Publisher
Professor Darryl Whetter’s 2022 edition of Kitaab Publishing’s The Best Asian Short Stories series follows his 2021 Routledge anthology Teaching Creative Writing in Asia. The title of each anthology implies, but does not quite state, their work in English. What, this panel wonders, distinguishes the Asian short story written in English, a language of both colonialism and cultural imperialism but also, as Derek Walcott’s postcolonial cri de coeur put it sixty years ago, “the English tongue I love.” Like these writers, Walcott worries about “betray[ing]” ancestry writing in English while hoping to “give back what they give.”
Transnational Asian writer Xu Xi, herself the co-editor of Bloomsbury’s 2021 The Art and Craft of Asian Stories, frankly states, in her chapter in Whetter’s Teaching Creative Writing in Asia, “Let’s be honest: there is something amoral about teaching English Creative Writing in Asia. For one thing it is often disconnected from both the literatures and languages of Asia.”
However, the seventeen vibrant entries in Best Asian Short Stories 2022, from writers in or of Singapore, India, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Japan, raise equal questions about the freedoms of art and writing, or borders aesthetic and linguistic, not legal, geographical or (too) historical. With The Best Asian Short Stories 2022 also published in Whetter’s native Canada (Guernica Editions, 2023), this anthology (and panel, with its Singlish title) will simultaneously question how short stories map liberation and restraint, belonging and the transnational, and Walcott’s hybrid “giving back.”
Panel proposal re: the 2022 anthology _The Best Asian Short Stories 2022_.