The Making of the Asian Australian Novel

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The making of the Asian Australian novel is the unmaking of oppressive notions of history, subjectivity and literary form. Locating ethnic representational politics within power structures of race and nation, this chapter contends that Asian Australian identity is a site of hybrid instability realised through nonlinear forms of storytelling. The chapter examines national and diasporic paradigms across historical and contemporary trajectories of this literature: earlier Chinese Australian novels that blur boundaries between fictional and factual claims; Bildungsroman novels that trouble ethnocentric narratives of either assimilation or return; multicultural novels that unveil ongoing racism in liberal-pluralist ideals; and transnational novels that reimagine the Australian relationship with postcolonial and globalising Asian modernity. Reflecting on the limits of a critical humanist agenda, the chapter identifies an alternative paradigm of Asian Australian storytelling that employs speculative tactics to depict the land, species, climate change and Asian–Indigenous connections. This ecocritical paradigm challenges a normative ideal of the modern, autonomous and sovereign individual as one the migrant subject should integrate into, while pointing to an under-explored terrain for Asian Australian writers whose focus on diversity and justice would offer important insights into the shifting human condition.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge History of the Australian Novel
EditorsDavid Carter
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781009090049
ISBN (Print)9781316514856, 9781009088565
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2023

Publication series

NameCambridge Histories - Literature
PublisherCambridge University Press

User-Defined Keywords

  • Asian Australian
  • nation
  • diaspora
  • autobiography
  • multiculturalism
  • cosmopolitanism
  • exoticism
  • landscape
  • climate change
  • speculative fiction


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