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Alison Wong’s writing and the hidden connectivities between cultures and communitites

September 24, 2012

One of the few interesting criticisms I have read of Alison Wong’s As the Earth Turns Silver is also too brief – Voci and Leckie’s refer to it in their introduction to a book of essays titled ‘Localizing Asia in Aotearoa’. Their words are provocative, but they don’t develop their thoughts here (it’s just an aside by way of introducing Wong as one of the authors). They write: “Alison Wong’s personal narrative [in this book of essays …] examines alternative spaces for connections developed within and beyond the opposition of the locals belonging to bicultural Aotearoa and the supposedly non-belonging Asian others. In her own family experience and the fictional story that inspired her first novel, As the Earth Turns Silver (Penguin, 2009), Pākehā and Chinese settlers’ attachments and loyalties to their communities do not create only antagonist oppositions; rather they elicit multiple responses, both painfully divisive but also profoundly connecting. As the Earth Turns Silver … seeks to uncover the less understood, hidden connectivities between cultures and communitites. …connectivities [that] can only be uncovered through localized histories that are much more complex and nuanced than what is captured by national histories.”[1]

“Both in her poetry and fiction,” Voci and Leckie continue, “Alison Wong has dealt with the complex cultural connectivities rooted in her personal life, and in her contribution [to this book of essays, pp.68-73] she reflects on their impact on her perceptions, inspirations and expressive strategies as a creative writer. Hers is the perspective of a Chinese New Zealander whose link with her ancestors’ national and ethnic belongings has long been mediated by local histories and communities.” (p.12)


[1] 12 Paola Voci and Jacqueline Leckie (2011) ‘Introduction: Beyond nations and ethnicities: localizing Asia in New Zealand’ in (eds) Paola Voci and Jacqueline Leckie Localizing Asia in Aotearoa. Dunmore Publishing: Wellington.

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