Contemporary Asian Literature
Instructor: Cammy Thomas
5 Sessions: March 27, April 10, 24, May 8, 22
Biosketch: Cammy Thomas has forty years of experience teaching literature and creative writing, at both university and high school levels. She has a PhD in English from UC Berkeley, where her dissertation was about Alfred, Lord Tennyson. An MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College followed. She has published two collections of poems with Four Way Books: Inscriptions (2014), and Cathedral of Wish, which received the 2006 Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. A fellowship from the Ragdale Foundation helped her complete Inscriptions. She lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Course Description: Well read and discuss short, contemporary works by writers from four countries. All readings will be in English. Our aim will be to better understand the issues and concerns that motivate the writers, and to explore the literary techniques they use to bring those concerns to their readers. From Japan, Banana Yoshimotos novella, Kitchen (1988), ponders generational differences in Japanese culture in the late 20th century. Dai Sijie investigates the disruptions of Chinas Cultural Revolution in his novel, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (2000). Suki Kims memoir, Without You, There is No Us, describes the difficult year she spent in an elite boys school in North Korea (2014). And Pakistani novelist Mohsin Hamids The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) follows a young Muslim world traveler as he experiences the painful east/west divide in a post-9/11 world. Some questions we will consider: What happens when powerful forces transform the cultures these characters are used to? How will they adapt to new beliefs about gender, about religion, about education? How will they face new and potentially dangerous realities? What are their dreams for the future? And finally, how do these concerns connect with our own?
*Class meets every other week to allow time for reading the texts*