The oft invoked binarism of tradition and modernity is more harshly criticised in the countries of Southeast Asia than in the West. Language is the focus of contemporary artistic interest in the region—not only as a traditional cultural asset, but also as the expression of a profoundly individual form of communication. Indeed, everyday language running wild, bit and pieces of foreign idioms, and even silence are material for textual production, from short poetic inspirations to screenplays.
Focus on Vietnam
The writer and translator was born in 1963 in what was then Saigon and currently lives in Philadelphia. He writes in English and Vietnamese. Selections of his work can be found in internet magazines (www.tienve.org or www.talawas.org). His poems are represented in numerous anthologies, including "Great American Prose: Poems from Poe to the Present". He edited "Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam".
Nguyen Quoc Chanh
The poet was born in 1958 in the south of Vietnam and served as a soldier from 1979-1981. A member of the group of young Vietnamese underground writers, he published two collections of poetry in the 1990s. Due to a lack of access to official avenues of publication, many of these authors allow their works to circulate as copies.
Focus on Thailand
Born in 1979 in Chicago, the writer grew up in Bangkok and studied there and in the US. He has already received numerous prizes for his work. "Sightseeing", his collection of short stories, was published in nine countries and will appear in spring 2006 in an edition by Kiepenheuer&Witsch.
The author, screenwriter and musician worked as a graphic designer in Manhattan before returning to Bangkok to complete his military service. In 2002 he won the most prestigious literary award in Thailand, the S.E.A. Write Award, for his short story “Probability”. As an homage to his work across genres, we will be showing the film "Last Life In The Universe", for which he wrote the screenplay, on October 2.
works as a publicist in Bangkok. In addition to novels like Faserland and 1979, he has published a collection of his travelogues on Southeast Asia under the title "Der Gelbe Bleistift" (The Yellow Pencil). Also an expert in Southeast Asian literature, Kracht has edited the literary magazine Der Freund since 2004.
Moderator for both discussions:Teri Shaffer Yamada
The literary expert is Associate Professor of comparative literature at California State University and in 2001 edited the first anthology of Southeast Asian short prose in English entitled "Virtual Lotus – Modern Fiction of Southeast Asia". She is currently working on a companion collection of essays.
Within the framework of the Asia-Pacific Weeks, which are supported by the Stiftung Deutsche Klassenlotterie Berlin (DKLB).