But before we - in typical Singaporean manner - rush to start on a blueprint of production- line initiatives and targets, let's be mindful that this cannot be a completely objective-driven task.Do we have any Malaysian novels exude the breath and breadth of Malaysian life? And exactly how do we identify a "Malaysian" novel anyway? If a novel is written in Malay and concerns mostly Malay characters, is that truly "Malaysian"?
What is important is the creation of space for writers to find their niche, grow and excel.
Asked what he thought would go into the making of that much-touted but still elusive Great Singapore Novel, a publisher answered with a question: What makes Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind a great American novel? Or John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, or J D Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye?
Clearly, they all breathe America. In the same vein, the works of many great Irish writers, such as Roddy Doyle's Paddy Clarke Ha! Ha! Ha! and Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes, are unmistakably Irish in soul.
Too many of our local works, though well written, do not exude the Singapore breath and breadth of life. They could be works produced of any place. Except for the names of the characters and a sprinkling of Singlish, they are almost un-identifiable in that respect.
Via the Literary Saloon.