A dream shattered: Lloyd Fernando's literary vision of Malaysia

Wicks, Peter (2000) A dream shattered: Lloyd Fernando's literary vision of Malaysia. Asian Culture Quarterly, 28 (2). pp. 49-53. ISSN 0378-8911


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Despite a virtually overwhelming official preference for Malay as the language of public discourse in Malaysia, there has been, and continues to be, a vibrant and tenacious stream of literature in Malaysia that is written in English and is somehow being published and read. There are valid reasons for this persistence, reasons that are inherent in Malaysia’s modern history as a former British colony and now independent state to which both immigrant communities and former colonial ruler have made vital contributions. English language writing in Malaysia may have suffered culturally and politically because of its association with former British colonial rule. Yet it has also benefited from the relative freedom, potentiality and adaptability of the language and its contemporary cosmopolitanism. Past hang-ups about colonialism can blinker the dynamic and complex nature of current reality. It is obviously crucial that literature be nurtured that reflects the nation of Malaysia in holistic rather than communal terms.

Since initial independence in 1957, Malaysia has produced a variety of poets, playwrights, and novelists who have chosen to write and publish in the English language, and who have attained both national and international recognition. Names like Wong Phui Nam, Ee Tiang Hong, Lee Kok Liang, K S Maniam, and Shirley Geok-lin Lim come readily to mind, all of who have been discussed critically and extensively elsewhere. To this list, the name of Lloyd Fernando, author, former academic and lawyer, is a distinguished addition. This paper provides an analysis of Fernando’s two substantial, published works of fiction to date, the pioneering Scorpion Orchid, first published in 1976, and the somber Green is the Colour, which first appeared in 1993. Fernando’s novels contain themes pertinent to the identity of the land in which he lives, and the peoples who live there, those whom the inimitable Dennis Bloodworth once termed the “mythical Malaysians.” In both of these works, Fernando, himself from the Eurasian minority, draws attention to the inherent fragility of the Malaysian nation-state, and the seeds of its potential destruction. The novels by Fernando confirm that the parameters of Malaysian identity were, and remain, communally defined and exclusionist on Malay cultural terms. In the contemporary world of nation-states, not all colonization is externally inspired.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Publisher unable to be contacted.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Arts - Department of Humanities and International Studies (Up to 31 Mar 2011)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Arts - Department of Humanities and International Studies (Up to 31 Mar 2011)
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2007 01:03
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2013 22:43
Uncontrolled Keywords: Lloyd Fernando, Malaysian literature, Malaysia
Fields of Research (2008): 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200519 South-East Asian Literature (excl. Indonesian)
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/2364

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