Books, Malaysian writing

Aspects of Malaysian culture I’d like to see in fiction

finkelsteingirl: Are there any aspects of Malaysian, British, or Malaysian-British (?) culture you wish you saw more of in fiction?

I’ll focus on Malaysian culture as, while I am interested in fiction about less-examined aspects of British culture, it’s overall a culture that’s been much more examined in the fiction I’ve read than Malaysian culture. (I’m not sure there’s really an independent Malaysian-British culture. The Malaysian community in Britain is probably large enough at any given time to generate one, but it’s quite a shifting population since a fairly substantial proportion must be made up of people who are only here temporarily, and it probably also breaks down along race/class lines.)

In general I would like to see more stories about broadly happy families — families that have problems, of course, but overall get along and that form a source of strength for their members. I guess that’s not really specific to Malaysian culture! But in fiction people mostly seem more interested in messed up, dysfunctional families than functional families. There are reasons for that, of course, but I like to read stories about families that don’t totally suck. I feel like you tend to see more of that in YA or children’s books.

I always like to read sympathetic, intelligent, accurate depictions in fiction of traditionally underrepresented identities. I’d like to read more books about queer people in Malaysia specifically.

Trying to think of more aspects specific to Malaysian culture — I’d like to see more fiction in English set in contemporary Malaysia. (There is a bit of a trend of Western-published Malaysian writers writing mostly historical fiction. How mysterious, I wonder why!) I’d like to read stories about refugees by refugees. I’d also really like to see more fiction by and about Orang Asal. Also more fiction that isn’t by/about middle-class urbanites (speaking as a middle-class urbanite myself …).

And this isn’t really an “aspect of culture” thing, but I’d like to see more genre/commercial fiction set in Malaysia and/or about Malaysians (preferably by Malaysians). I like literary fiction well enough, but in my experience it’s less concerned with I’m really interested in reading, which is a damn good story.


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