BW Issue 20
THE 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.
THE 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: the container has its own rationale and history, but what the writer brings comes from another source entirely."
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.
THE BW INSIDER: Manneke Budiman
"Today the need to listen to critics is even more urgent because there are too much noise and distortions that make people no longer know what they should choose to listen... The world may have become one crazy world, but we don’t have to be part of that world, thanks to the tireless work of literary critics."
Critics, are they "parasites" of others' work or artists in their own right? In Part 7 of The BW INSIDER series literary critic Manneke Budiman shows us how crucial the voice of the critic is in chronicling contemporary times and even the journey of a nation.
THE 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.
We interview successful people in the publishing industry to help YOU in your journey as a Banana Writer
The Literary Agent
The MFA Guru
LATEST BW ASIAN WRITERS TO GET UNPEELED
“Uncle Kazuya, my father’s older brother, hung himself in the barn behind his house in Ishikari, just outside Sapporo in Hokkaido.
He had left a note: I’m found out. It’s too late. Help.”
Read a beautifully melancholic short story by a Canadian Japanese screenwriter and journalist.
BW Short Story: Shimenawa
Roses and winter frost-
Shall call upon thunder
To declare the end
of world's heart break-
“My heart and soul revolves around this artistic expression that gives life itself a new perspective.” Read some striking poems by a Singaporean writer who was born in Bangladesh.
BW Poetry: One Day / Black Lashes
Thoughts from a Banana Writer: Growing up on Lard
“I grew up in Birmingham to English (read ‘white’) parents who were loving, but gave me steak and kidney pies to eat instead of rice. Not that they needed to give me rice, but I blame my lack of 'Chineseness' on the lack of rice I was fed as a kid.”
Read a mouth-watering story about food, culture and the humorous struggles of a British Chinese girl with white parents.
BW Short Story: Bunga
“He could not fathom the ambiguity in her tone – was she indirectly accusing him of blatant ignorance having not read the type of literature she preferred? Or was she attempting to stir envy in him by involving a man she had never met into the picture?"
Read a story about an unconventional marriage by a fiction writer who is on a “long-running mission to expose the beauty in writing.”
"I think my favourite memory of my time in Lijiang is when we all visited the KTV Karaoke Bar on a whim, singing dreadfully into the late night. I felt that I gained a personal insight into the Chinese way of life through the many communal dinners we shared. I love authentic Chinese food, though I’m not sure I’ll be going near any ‘Stinky’ Tofu anytime soon."
A globetrotting writer shares his experiences of China through evocative pictures and thoughts.
Thoughts from a Banana Writer: Sojourner in Lijiang