Xingjian admits that he has been “a refugee from birth”, born “while planes weredropping bombs”. He also escaped persecution in China to settle in a foreigncountry, writing
in a personal journey back to the self.For his part, Kawabata’s compatriot Kenzaburo Oë, who also won the NobelPrize for Literature, sought to return from the ravages of war to facedisillusionment and ambiguity in Japan. Personally, in his writing, he has soughthealing.Lastly, Arundhati Roy, in her Booker Prize-winning novel
The God of Small Things
, made a journey with her protagonist back to India years after sufferinginjustice not only from domestic prejudice, but also from her country’s colonialheritage.Asians have a unique way of dealing with disruptive time and history. Consistentwith the repetition of seasons, they have always managed to return to the oldflow.Returning to emptiness, to personal memories, to the historical realities of acountry, and to the wounds of persecution and prejudice, these Asian writershave identified themselves as individuals, and in the process have given readersa glimpse into the Asian spirit.
From the West: Haruki Murakami
“Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling From glen to glen, and down the mountain side.The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling—It’s you, it’s you must go, and I must bide.But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow…Oh Danny boy, oh Danny Boy, I’ll miss you so!”
A child of the West, world-famous Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami wasdeeply influenced by its culture, growing up reading Kurt Vonnegut, RaymondCarver, and a slew of other writers, and also imbibing the music of bands like theBeatles, jazz acts like Miles Davis, and the classical music of Europeancomposers.As Bing Crosby sings about “Danny Boy”,
Murakami pines for the lost innocenceand spontaneity of Japan. But he does so in a voice and method that is almostfully Western.