From the Editor - November 2014

Some things never change. Relentlessly lovely or fiercely intractable, they are fixtures that command our attention. The majesty and mystery of nature will always draw us towards it. No matter how repressed or destitute they may be, people will always strive for their dreams and the freedom to make them real. We hope that well-chosen words will always wield more enduring might than the sword. Not only can they rouse a crowd to action – they can also help us make sense of the unfathomable.
Other things have no option but to change. For them, it’s evolution or death. To stand still is to fall backwards.
Since the inception of the Asia Literary Review a decade ago, “change” has been a defining catchword for Asia. Once a follower of Western powers, the continent now drives much of the global narrative. China is minting millionaires more quickly than any other nation. Within a decade, the PRC may even eclipse the US in the number of such one-percenters. Political and social leaders from around the world increasingly court the favour of the region’s leadership. Naturally, such rapid transformation has not been without costs. Every country from Pakistan to Japan has endured spasms of upheaval brought on by political change, self-doubt or loss of identity.
Meanwhile, no industry has been more disrupted by new technologies than the media, where the cycle of critical change has long since ceased to be measured in years or months, but rather in nanoseconds. As the span of an individual’s attention has contracted, so the way the world consumes media has altered beyond recognition.
As we officially re-launch the Asia Literary Review, after a two-year hiatus and under new ownership, we find ourselves positioned at the busy intersection of these disparate forces. Ours is a privileged but precarious vantage point. We need to see and be seen. We need to be in the thick of things, but to avoid being crushed by the heavy stuff that barrels our way. Accordingly, we have redesigned our core offering. Our quarterly magazine survives, but primarily in e-form. By focusing more on digital delivery than on hard copies, we can offer dynamic and timely material to a much wider readership. We can develop a package that will increasingly exploit the potential of multimedia, supplementing the well-written word with video and audio.
Between the quarterly e-magazines, we will use our website to give a refreshing literary voice to issues of the day as they emerge. In the past few months, our contributors have written pieces about the recent Indonesian elections, the Thai coup d’état, the death of prominent Burmese poet U Win Tin and, most recently, the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong. In posting engaging and relevant content, we have achieved a truly global reach. In this issue of the Asia Literary Review, we reflect on how Asia is constantly bombarded by forces – both foreign and from within – that influence its shape and dimensions.
Digging up and putting a price on the past is a theme in Cheng Yong’s Porcelain Girl – and getting that price wrong has its price, too. Nighat Gandhi and Maria Carmen A. Sarmiento dig into the intimacies of identity in Pakistan and the Philippines, while Michael Vatikiotis presents us with a macabre prospect of what intimacy might mean in the future. Memoir opens up the past for Fan Dai and Kavita A. Jindal, and the eternal themes of faith, death and transformation make compelling reading in our eclectic – and electric – selection of poetry.
There has always been much for a pan-Asian literary magazine to cover. In reinvigorating ourselves, we at the Asia Literary Review are aware that our tread needs to be light yet firm, quick yet deliberate. We strive to combine the successful elements of our past with the realities of a very different future. In this way we reflect Asia itself, pressing ahead with enormous promise, but aware that it must not untether itself from the traditions and richness of culture that have endured for millennia.

For full access to articles in this and other issues, please subscribe.


More Non-fiction

Please Register or Login

Register now for full access to News and Events, Web Exclusives, Blogs and Comments.

If you've already registered, please login.