- Where Asian writers get unpeeled -
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BW Interviews With Asian Authors
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BW Interview: Zen Cho
"I'd like people to return to my books when they feel the need for something to console or hearten or strengthen or cheer them. That's how I feel about my favourite authors."
Raised in Malaysia and living in London, Zen Cho is a lawyer by day and renowned fantasy fiction author by night. Although sometimes referred to as the "Poster girl for diversity," she would prefer to be known as "Zen Cho the author," transcending nationality and culture. BW talks with Zen about trials she has faced, influences on her writing, and tips for aspiring authors.
BW Interview: Sonny Liew
"The sheer diversity of human life means that what counts as important can be somewhat subjective, or at least a niche affair. But insofar as historical matters which can shape us and affect how we behave and think, then a more inclusive account would surely be a good thing."
Graphic novels are used as a powerful medium to convey history and politics. At the same time, they can ignite a new concept of history telling. Eisner Award nominated Sonny Liew talks to BW about his epic and somewhat controversial political graphic novel The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye and why there is need to redeem Singapore’s ‘untold’ history.
BW Interview: Han Kang
“In my case, my strongest motivation to write Human Acts came more from my interior. I had to search my interior to grasp the reason why I had been striving to embrace the human experience. Then I encountered Gwangju...I learnt about the brutality and sublimity of human nature.”
Han Kang is the multi-award winning South Korean author of notable works that include The Vegetarian and Human Acts. Her novel The Vegetarian recently won The Man Booker International Prize. In her interview with BW Han Kang talks about the dark facets of the human race and why the usage of graphic violence in her work sometimes assists her to answer questions on what it means to be "human".
BW Interview: Hyeonseo Lee
“We cannot let oppressive governments intimidate or silence us because there are many people who need our help and rely on people with the courage to speak out.”
Hyeonseo Lee is a North Korean defector who often speaks out against injustice and persecution. Her inspiring TED Talk has been watched by over 1.8 million viewers. She is also the author of The Girl With Seven Names which tells the riveting story of her escape from North Korea. In her interview with BW Hyeonseo shares about her love for her family and why people must not close their eyes to oppression.
BW Interview: Madeleine Thien
"Writing is my way of thinking. All the different forms take up a different kind of space, they have their particular shape. Each shape has its possibilities and limitations, and I think that writers are constantly pushing the boundaries of the shape. It’s a bit like water in a glass."
Surviving the Khmer Rogue and starting a new life in Canada, Madeleine Thien’s artistic vision is much like her writing talent - borderless. In her interview with BW she talks about juggling her multiple forms of writing and how she breaks, expands, and re-imagines words
BW Interview: Dr Diana Yeh
“There is still pressure on writers to focus their work on issues related to what is perceived to be ‘their culture’. And there are still many talented playwrights, directors and performers who don’t receive the visibility they warrant.”
Dr Diana Yeh is a sociologist, author and thought leader with research interests in race, migration, diaspora and cultural politics. Don’t miss her interview with BW about prejudices in British society and the countless challenges she faced while writing her book The Happy Hsuings.
BW Interview: Andrea Hirata
"The worst consequence of poverty is a poor child has a lack of confidence and I believe that problem can be solved by education. That is the significance of education for me. Education gives inspiration to survive and even to make progress.”
Andrea Hirata is the biggest selling Indonesian author of all time. His novel The Rainbow Troops sold over 4 million copies in Indonesia alone and was adapted into a movie that broke box office records. In an intimate interview with BW we discover a kind hearted, positive author with a heart for helping children reach their potential.
BW Interview: J M Lee
“I want a fiction that reveals the truth of history, rather than the fragments of it. I dream about a fiction that can highlight the truth. Truth always has two contradictory sides: light and darkness. Men bear their own light and darkness too: good and evil. No one can avoid them.”
J M Lee is a bestselling Korean author who has written eight novels which have been made into movies, TV dramas, a musical and a play. In 2015, his novel The Investigation was longlisted for the prestigious Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.
BW Interview: Emmanuel Moon Chil Park
“…No matter how much you prepare for life’s obstacles, something is bound to go wrong. With increasing global mobility, it will be more and more difficult to raise children in a mono-cultural environment; I realize that, if I have children of my own, they will, like me, most likely have to face the troubles of negotiating cultural differences. What I can say, for now, is that I intend to do my best in understanding what my child is going through and show unconditional support.”
Read the exclusive interview with multiple award-winning filmmaker Emmanuel Moon Chil Park.
BW Interview: Loung Ung
Few people find the courage within themselves to face the darkness. Fewer still are able to step into that darkness and wring dignity out of it. Loung Ung is one such lady. Using her gift of writing to build memoirs of life in Cambodia’s killing fields, she brings a message of in her books, films, and activism.
“Whenever something can help you see pass the darkness, it’s healing,” says the survivor. BW catches up with this survivor who has transformed her silence into beauty.
BW Interview: Celeste Ng
"Change is always slow, but it starts with conversation, and I’m so glad these conversations are happening. More writers are out there telling their stories and wrestling with the idea of being different in some way, and I hope that trend continues."
Celeste Ng's novel Everything I Never Told You was selected by Amazon Editors as the #1 Book of the Year. In her contemplative interview with BW Ng talks about the trials she faces as an author and the importance of diversity in literature.
“I have a passion to share my culture with others. I remember students from the California Culinary Academy, after a one week seminar with me on Chinese cooking came away with a positive impression of a great cuisine which they previously thought as cheap grub.”
Ken Hom OBE is arguably the most famous Asian chef in the world. He is author to more than 20 award-winning cook books which have sold millions of copies all over the world. In a droolsome interview with BW we discover a man who is passionate about helping others.
BW Interview: Ken Hom
BW Interview: Elaine Lui AKA Lainey Gossip
"I was called names as a teenager. I’ve had a few online stalkers over the years. People yell at me on Twitter a lot. But I never engage. I just …don’t have the time or energy. You’ll never win and it’ll never end. I was raised by a very tough mother. She was never easy on me. She has always been my first and worst critic."
Elaine “Lainey” Lui is a TV Presenter for Canadian TV’s eTalk and one of the world’s most influential gossip queens. Read our inspiring interview with Lainey and learn about her fabulous gung-ho approach to life.
BW Interview: Yiyun Li
“There are many mysteries within human nature that baffle me. For instance, we seek comfort in strangers more than people close to us sometimes. Or, sometimes we are attracted to people who lie to us, not because we don’t know they are lying, but their lying seems to help us in our own lying.”
Get into the brilliant mind of Yiyun Li - an ex-scientist turned award-winning author.
BW Interview: Banana Yoshimoto
We are very excited to bring you a quick interview with the ultimate Banana!
Pinning down Banana Yoshimoto for an interview was like trying to walk on banana peels without slipping.
But when we finally unpeeled this best-selling author’s brain, we discovered a kind-hearted writer that shared the wisest words.
BW Interview: Xiaolu Guo
“I don’ t think I write about sex particularly well, but I do know how to describe the aching feeling of isolation, loneliness, dislocation and the longing for love and warmth. Sex is only a way to connect to others, sometimes a strange and extreme way to connect.”
The well-respected Chinese novelist, Xiaolu Guo, gives an insightful and honest interview with BW. Not to be missed!
BW Interview: Ma Jian
“Writers must write what they feel compelled to, with no thought of the consequences. If they fear what a censor might say about their book, they’d be better off not writing it, because fear is the greatest enemy of creativity.”
The amazing author Ma Jian shares with BW about the important role writers have in our broken society and why we have to be brave when facing oppression.
BW Interview: Jean Kwok
“If you’re deciding between becoming a writer or working in the circus, definitely go for the circus.”
The kind hearted, humorous New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Translation chats to BW about her writing career, how she “failed” as a stereotypical Chinese daughter and her time as a professional ballroom dancer.
BW Interview: Ben Chu
"The Western press writes nonsense about a whole range of peoples and countries, and always has done."
Ben Chu is passionate about overturning the wrong stereotypes many westerners have of Chinese people. After working as the chief leader writer for The Independent (UK), Ben attained the prestigious role as Economics Editor. Ben shares with BW his personal journey as a writer, how to be a successful journalist and what it means to have freedom of speech.
BW Interview: Ilymark
Ilymark came to Singapore in 2005, and made his mark as a member of the award winning rock band The Dead Macoys before turning his sights to writing and recording his own music.
A song-writer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, his sound reflects the diversity and background of the man himself. His sound is a fusion of genres and influences not bound by rules but rather to showcase his boundless creativity and heart. Read our exclusive interview with a hardcore rocker with a soft heart.
BW Interview: Kyung-Sook Shin
Kyung-Sook Shin is the author of the million copy bestseller Please Look After Mom. She was the first woman to be awarded The Man Asian literary prize.
In her interview with BW the deep thinker talks about her mother, gender imbalances and the challenges she faced in her 20 year writing career.
BW Interview: Gene Luen Yang
Gene Luen Yang is the bestselling author of American Born Chinese - the first graphic novel to be a finalist for the National Book Award. He writes for the hugely popular Avatar series and is a champion for using graphic novels as educational tools in the classroom.
The monkey loving Gene shares his expertise and sense of fun in an interview with BW
BW Interview: David Henry Hwang
To the western world, David Henry Hwang is a playwright, librettist and screenwriter. But to many Asian writers he is someone who speaks out bravely against prejudices to Asian artists.
The Tony award winning writer talks to BW about facing highs and lows, cultural misunderstandings and why "Yellow Face" in theatre is wrong.
BW Interview: Kevin Kwan
Kevin Kwan is the author Crazy Rich Asians, a hilarious bestseller that is a satire of uber rich, super mad Singaporeans. A cross between Bergdorf Blondes and Jackie Collins, Crazy Rich Asians is fabulously different from many of the historical Asian novels in the shop. Shortly after its release, the movie rights were snapped up by the Hollywood producers of The Hunger Games.
Before writing his debut novel, Kwan worked on a variety of creative projects, including consulting for ted.com, acclaimed visual books for Oprah Winfrey and co-authoring a non-fiction book about luck.
BW Interview: Amy Tan
In her two decades as a author, Amy Tan has sold millions of books, won numerous awards and importantly was featured in an episode of The Simpsons!
But with success often comes criticism and challenges. In this exclusive interview with BW, Amy Tan gives great advice to new writers and shares her wisdom about how to deal with the haters.
BW Interview: The Sam Willows
With more than 330,000 views on their YouTube page, The Sam Willows is taking Asia by storm.
After their sold-out album launch in 2012, the band has toured North America and produced a music video with musical legend Steve Lillywhite. Share their journey as musicians and the stories behind their lyrics.
BW Interview: Dyske Suematsu
Dyske is the creative genius behind alllooksame.com the website that went viral and attracted millions of hits across the world. Hailing fron Japan, the clever cultural critique shares with us his fascinating views on stereotypes and social norms.
BW Interview: Alvin Pang
Alvin Pang’s thoughtful, reflective poems have touched readers across the globe. His award winning poems have been translated into over fifteen language and featured in publications such as The Wolf (UK), English Review (UK), Salt (Australia), Paper Tiger (Australia), Australian Poetry Journal and Washington Square Review (USA). In 2005, he was Singapore’s Young Artist of the Year for Literature. Through his passion for encouraging new writers, he created The Literary Centre (Singapore), a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to literary development and positive social change.
BW Interview: George Vong
“I will happily place a substantial bet with whichever firm can offer me the best odds, that China’s capital will be relocated within twenty years. Any takers?”
Meet George Vong, a passionate author who is willing to put his money where his mouth is.
BW Interview: Daniel York
Daniel York wears many hats - scriptwriter, director, producer and actor. He has been in Hollywood blockbusters and won accolades for his acting. But above all, he is a writer.
Find out what it really takes to get a play to the West End and read his special BW masterclass in scriptwriting.
BW Interview: Dr Alex Tan
Dr Alex Tan is probably the only academic writer with a passion for Emo music.
Read his fascinating research on the British Chinese community and find out what the Chinese youth really get up to in their spare time.
BW Interview: Helen Tse
Helen Tse is an award winning restaurant owner, sauce maker and bestselling author. Her memoir Sweet Mandarin has been published in 33 countries.
In an exclusive interview, we pick at Helen's sharp business brain and find out about her exciting path to success.
BW Interview: Loong
A philosophy teacher-turned singer songwriter, Loong was a distinction graduate from the prestigious London Music School. With his family rooted in Singaporean and British culture, his music pieces together questions about identity, community and growing up as a product of Eastern and Western cultures.
Loong has performed in venues as diverse as the Peninsula Hotel, the famous Water Rats bar in London (where Oasis made their debut), and even a lepers’ colony in India. After returning to the UK in 2011, he became a popular act on the London scene and in late 2012 he released an acoustic EP The Fairlop Sessions music from which has been featured on Chinese TV to an audience of millions.