Part 1 of Singapore/Malaysia Fiction

Ban Kah Choon, PhD, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of English Language and Literature, National University of Singapore

Adapted from Post-Colonial Literatures in English, ed. Rajeev S. Patke, 1998, by George P. Landow, Professor of English and Art History, Brown University; Distinguished Visiting Professor, NUS, 1998-99.

The literary histories of Singapore and Malaysia followed a common path until the island-state separated from the Federation in 1965. Writers shared many social and cultural assumptions, in particular about language. One of their common concerns, one that links, for instance, Wang Gung Wu and Oliver Seet to Edwin Thumboo and Ee Tiang Hong, was with the 'domestication' of the English language. All these witers accepted and recognised that their chosen instrument of writing was alien, a legacy of colonialism, and they sought actively to recolonise it. Hence, if there is one thread - and one project - that binds all these writers together, it is their search for a personal (and national) voice in English that would reflect their lives as well as the rapidly changing environment as the two countries moved towards independence and nationhood.

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