On the Death of Taiwanese Freedom Fighter Peng Ming-min (彭明敏)

“The Chinese,” he wrote, “must learn to distinguish ethnic origin and culture from politics and law, and to discard their archaic obsession to claim anyone of Chinese ancestry as legally Chinese, however far removed from China.” He continued: “The real issue is not independence for Formosa but self-determination for the people there. And the Formosan … Continue reading On the Death of Taiwanese Freedom Fighter Peng Ming-min (彭明敏)

Desmond Tutu: Speaking Truth to Power

“Mr. Zuma, you and your government don’t represent me. You represent your own interests. I am warning you out of love, one day we will start praying for the defeat of the A.N.C. government. You are disgraceful.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu, speaking in 2011 during Jacob Zuma's period as President of South Africa, as quoted in … Continue reading Desmond Tutu: Speaking Truth to Power

Abdulrazak Gurnah’s Nobel Speech: “A kind of beauty”

. . . writing cannot be just about battling and polemics, however invigorating and comforting that can be. Writing is not about one thing, not about this issue or that, or this concern or another, and since its concern is human life in one way or another, sooner or later cruelty and love and weakness … Continue reading Abdulrazak Gurnah’s Nobel Speech: “A kind of beauty”

Writing Fiction: “A Degree of Possession”

Whether or how much a book draws from real life isn’t strictly quantifiable . . . Part of this mystery is due to the chaotic consciousness native to the novel-writing process, which requires a degree of possession . . . To dig a book out of the ground can be backbreaking, hand-tearing work; you need to forget what you … Continue reading Writing Fiction: “A Degree of Possession”

Quote of the Week: A Shipwrecked Mother Tongue

For me, linguistic displacement is a mark of origin. When I was five years old, I learned French at the Alliance Française in Santiago; at seven years old, when we moved to California, I learned English and forgot my French. From that moment forward, I have remained sandwiched between Spanish and English, feeling comfortable to a … Continue reading Quote of the Week: A Shipwrecked Mother Tongue

Quote of the Week: Querying the Maori Canon

Canons have real-world effects. When I first talked about teaching Māori literature in an English department in New Zealand, a number of people questioned whether there would be enough writing to justify a whole course, let alone a whole job. This assumption is not accidental – it grows out of a colonial view that Indigenous … Continue reading Quote of the Week: Querying the Maori Canon

Excerpt of the Week: China as a Mere “Borderland” in Eyes of Ancient Indian Buddhist Clergy

According to academic Tansen Sen, the curious issue of a "borderland complex" among Buddhist clergy --- earlier suggested in the work of Faxian (337-442) --- is clearly expressed in the account of Xuanzang's travel to India, Great Tang Records on the Western Regions. Writes Tan: In a conversation between his Indian hosts at the Nalanda … Continue reading Excerpt of the Week: China as a Mere “Borderland” in Eyes of Ancient Indian Buddhist Clergy