“The Tapestry of Voices”

Tash Aw's writing reviewed in the LARB

Richard M. Cho writes about Tash Aw's novels in a recent review in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

“It is reasonable to deduce that one of Aw’s impetus for writing novels is to make those ‘particular points of view’ represented along with those of Europeans.

But how to do so effectively? Aw is careful not to discard a certain viewpoint imperative to understanding Malaysian history, which is inextricably interwoven with European countries for their centuries-long colonialism (by Portugal, by the Dutch, and by the British Empire). Understanding that the democracy of narrative voices would present an unbiased portrayal of his story, Aw wrote his first two novels, which heavily deal with the unmistakable legacy of European colonialism in Southeast Asia, by allowing characters from different ethnic origins to speak in turn. Firmly equipped with cross-cultural awareness (although he grew up in Southeast Asia, he nurtured his postsecondary education in England,) he aptly speaks for both the colonizer and the colonized. In fact, the most conspicuous literary device in all of Aw’s novels is his use of multiperspective narration, a cacophony of voices that, although disharmonious from time to time, emits from their heart and soul.”

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