About This Book:
Voices under the Sun: English-Language Writings by Australian and Other Authors with Chinese Ancestry examines the construction and representation of "Chineseness" and different types of "Chinese" cultural identity by authors with Chinese ancestry in Australia and other parts of the world. These writings are either directly produced in English, or originally written in Chinese but later translated into English.
Australia's authors with Chinese ancestry occupy an unusual position within both Australian and Chinese literary arenas. On the one hand, there is a visible difference between these authors and their counterparts with European ancestry, in terms of their representations of "Chineseness" and different types of "Chinese" cultural identity in writing. On the other hand, although writings produced by these Australia-based authors with Chinese ancestry share many commonalities with those produced by their counterparts in other parts of the world, it is in the sense that these authors speak of Australian issues that their works may be considered as a part of Australian literature.
Because cultural identity is flexible and ever-changing in nature, constructed on the needs of individuals to react to the demands of their political, economic, societal and cultural circumstances, we need to ask an important question: Can we safely identify these Australia-based authors as "Chinese" writers because of their Chinese ethnic background? Can a
theoretical framework be proposed accordingly, in which the "Chineseness" represented in their writings may be analyzed adequately?
In an attempt to answer this question, Voices under the Sun situates and examines the English-language writings produced by Australia's authors with Chinese ancestry not only within the larger body of Australian literature, but also within that of international diasporic Chinese literature. Writings of a wide range of Australian writers with Chinese ancestry -- including Brian Castro, Beth Yahp, Hsu-Ming Teo, Lillian Ng, Ang Chin Geok, Arlene J. Chai, Jane Hutcheon, Fang Xiangshu, Ding Xiaoqi, Sang Ye, Ouyang Yu and Julie T. Hsia -- are compared to those of their counterparts based in other multicultural societies, such as Ting-Xing Ye, Xinran, Adeline Yen Mah, Jan Wong, Iris Chang and Denise Chong. Important academic and other studies of Australian and diasporic Chinese literatures are also investigated and critiqued.
Voices under the Sun is among the first academic works that explore the nature and significance of English-language writings produced by Australia's authors with Chinese ancestry. Its conceptualization of "Chineseness" as a subjective construction of meaning, one way to reflect on individual desires to meet the demands of their daily survival, is refreshing. Different types of "Chinese" cultural identity are therefore in need of being viewed as flexible points of reference that challenge conventional approaches to identifying Australian and other authors with Chinese ancestry.