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Writing the Hyphen

The Articulation of Interculturalism in Contemporary Chinese-Canadian Literature


Susanne Hilf

This study explores how issues of interculturalism and hybridity are dealt with in early and contemporary Chinese-Canadian literature. The book opens with an overview of the sociohistorical context which shaped many of the recurring topics and tropes in Chinese-Canadian writing. Drawing on select post-colonial theories as well as on the idea of »writing culture», the subsequent discussion of poems and short stories published in the 1970s and 1980s reveals that the authors of earlier works sought to define a distinct and ethnoculturally specific collective identity. While dualisms such as Asian Canadian or Us Them form the basis of identity formation in these earlier writings, the author argues that the more recent and stylistically hybrid prose works by Sky Lee, Larissa Lai and Fred Wah undermine such dualisms, illustrating a more playful and less programmatic use of cultural overlapping.
Contents: Chinese-Canadian Literature and its Contexts: Socio-historical Background and Literary Background – Expressing Delimitation: The Search for One’s Own Voice and The Search for Intercultural Themes – Life in Chinatown: Fiction as Documentation – Celebrating Liminality: Sky Lee’s Disappearing Moon Café, Larissa Lai’s When Fox Is a Thousand, Fred Wah’s Diamond Grill.