After the Tsunami: Challenges of a Changing Literary Landscape

Matt McGuire (6 October 2014) observes “modern conflicts differ from that sui generis killing-fest of the early 20th century”, the generation remembers the suffering of war and now political resolutions are made at the ballot box or discussion tables rather than killing fields most particularly in South East Asia. The literature of a nation that has changed political power whether through war or a peaceful transition will be poised to experience a new direction, forging a new identity as evidenced in the writers of the countries discussed above. In scrutinizing The Pickup (Nadine Gordimer 2001) in post-apartheid in South Africa, M.J. Cloete (2005) discovered that Van der Waal and Wilcox’s definition of identity as “a shifting process rather than a fixed essence, and that this process is profoundly influenced by individual experience, which itself is situated within a particular historical context” (2004) is undeniable. These shifting subjectivities involved in answering the complex phenomenon of a nation’s literary direction and identity are made much harder as the task involves grappling with the contestations between political history, globalization and its impact on the multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-lingual nation like Malaysia. Made-up of Peninsular Malaysia, East Malaysia (Sabah & Sarawak); the 32.7 million people of diverse nationality and ethnic with 67.4% Malays, 24.6% Chinese, 7.3 % Indians and about 0.7 % ethnic other , (Department of Statistics Malaysia Official Portal 2018) struggle to forge a national identity after independence in 1957. At the formation of Malaysia in 1963, Barisan National, a coalition headed by United Malays National Organization or UMNO has since ruled until the historical tsunami on the 9th of May 2018. The Barisan National implemented a consolidation of the arts under one language Bahasa Malaysia (How 2015) that has become a much-researched topic not to mention forging a “new” identity (Lim 2008). Aside from the diverse ethnicity, cultures and religion, the strive to compete in the technology-driven economy of the future at the dawn of millennial and the impact of globalization which has contributed 11.2% to the 2% registered as international migrants of the overall population are significant catalyst for social change in any nation, Malaysia notwithstanding.

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