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Poon, A. (2021). Universalism and the Malaysian Anglophone novel: Exploring inequality, migrancy, and class in Tash Aw's We, the Survivors. Journal of Postcolonial Writing. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/17449855.2021.1975405
Journal of Postcolonial Writing
Tash Aw’s 2019 novel We, the Survivors narrates the story of a convicted killer, Ah Hock, whose life serves as a lens to refract contemporary Malaysia’s postcolonial history and its ethnic and class politics, as well as its location within the circuitry of global capitalism. This article examines Aw’s representation of migrancy, class, and inequality in contemporary Malaysian society, reading the text as a critique of global capitalism through its tactical employment of a universalist idiom that appropriates Darwinian ideas about survival, evolution, chance, environment, and competition. The text also reflects on the ethics of novel-writing since Ah Hock’s oral testimony is ostensibly mediated by a more privileged character. Aw locates his novel in the pivotal space between national specificity and general universalism while asking critical questions of his own position within the transnational literary marketplace, thereby underscoring the urgent need to re-world the world created by global capitalism.
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