Southeast Asian Authors
One of the leading translators of Indonesian fiction is Noriaki Oshikawa, a professor in the Faculty of International Relations at Daito Bunka University. In an interview with Hisashi Kondo, Professor Oshikawa makes the point that unlike Latin America where the Spanish language has allowed for the creation for a common literature, in Southeast Asia there is no equivalent of Spanish to thread together a literature for the region.
The life of a writer in Southeast Asia has never been an easy one. “Many Southeast Asian writers have gone about their craft under harsh conditions. They have had to contend with restrictions on their freedom of expression such as censorship or prohibition of sales of their work, and restrictions on their physical freedom including imprisonment or exile.”
According to Professor Oshikawa, authors in the region who drew from religious and heroic stories had changed between 1910 and 1930 when the novels morphed into nationalistic tales often about colonial oppression.
As for contemporary literature, he observes that the new novels from Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore feature characters who “seem to laugh and love without fear.”