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The complex organism which is multicultural NZ

July 18, 2012

“Writers and literature are only one part of the complex organism which is multicultural NZ. We each have a role to play.”

~ Alison Wong

“When pakeha writers publish novels, they are not expected to write the definitive NZ European novel. They have their individual voice and they are one voice among many. The danger for the NZ Chinese writer, or writer from any other ethnic minority in NZ, is if what they write is held up to be a definitive work, instead of just one voice and story among what will hopefully become many.

Brian Moloughney, when answering a question from the floor in the opening in this series, said that he thought that literature changed people, certainly more effectively than politicians or academics. I think that good literature should make the reader think and feel. But I do not think it is the role of the novelist to consciously set out to educate or to change the reader. Too often the result will not ring true. It will read like propaganda or polemic. The role of the novelist is to write a good novel, and in doing that the writer will invariably address themes and issues that arise out of the subconscious, out of the psyche and personal obsessions of the writer.”

Ref: Alison Wong (2003) Writing Historical Fiction from a Cross-Cultural Perspective’ a seminar given as part of the Stout Research Centre Chinese New Zealand Seminar Series, 2 April 2003, available as a transcript online at: accessed 2nd July 2012


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