17 February 2023 at 1:21:40 pm
Prof. Darryl Whetter is the author of nine books, including the 2020 climate-crisis novel Our Sands, from Penguin, and Teaching Creative Writing in Asia (Routledge, 2021). In his native Canada, his first story collection was named a Globe and Mail Top 100 book of 2003. His next book is #travelsend: poems at travel's end.
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.
Soh Tse Inn (Sarah) was born in Singapore and has previously lived in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the United States. She recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at LASALLE College of the Arts. Her work can be found in the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore and The Best Asian Short Stories editions of 2020 and 2022.
Zafar Anjum is a Singapore-based writer, publisher and filmmaker. He is 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.
Can/Cannot, Lah: On Anthologizing Asia: Notes from The Best Asian Short Stories 2022 [REVISED]
Asia, short story, postcolonial, fusion, anthology
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.”
Sorry, this is a resubmission of a proposal accepted on 16 Feb. This proposal adds one more contributor (Singaporean Soh Tse Inn).