Here's an excerpt from our upcoming issue Westerly 56:2 South/East Asia to wet your palettes. This a segment from the editorial by our guest editor, Shalmalee Palekar.
'The criterion for selection here has been the quality of each individual piece rather than any pseudo-representative character. I have not attempted, for instance, to collect samples from all the best-known writers and artists, from countries in this region. I have, however, attempted to strike a judicious balance between internationally established, ‘star’ writers and artists and emerging newcomers. There are stars—such as Jose Y Dalisay Jr. with his vividly rendered extract from a novel-in-progress, ‘Goats’, and Shakuntala Kulkarni with her visceral, confronting women warriors in ‘And when she roared the universe quaked’. Robert Raymer’s story, ‘The Blue Thread’, effective in its evocation of hopelessness and claustrophobia, would be familiar to the expatriate community in Malaysia. And there are exciting new artists like Kellie Greene, whose images in her photo essay, ‘Unknowing Cambodia’, haunt viewers with their subtle and rare sensibility.
Ranjit Hoskote’s poems are demandingly, pleasurably cerebral and dazzle with their control and rigour. Sampurna Chattarji’s poetry, on the other hand, has a monstrous, brutal beauty about it and one can only marvel at its seemingly effortless creation of different voices and entire worlds. Both these poets leave one feeling simultaneously flayed open and exhilarated. Isabela Banzon and Ahila Sambamoorthy’s voices couldn’t be more different. The former writes sharp, sometimes painful, poetic vignettes based on everyday life, with a deceptive simplicity that causes the images to linger with the reader, while the latter is the only poet in this collection who writes overtly of seeking the Divine, of striving for moments of transcendence. Omar Musa’s work is invigorating; it has a strongly performative quality, and is able to convey a great deal by using powerful yet economic language.
The stories, poems and artwork in this issue are not only from different parts of South/East Asia, but often specific to a particular city (Mohamad Atif Slim’s poignant, long poem about the Brisbane floods, ‘Twelve hours’), and even a community (Smriti Ravindra’s blackly comic story ‘The Royal Procession’). So the editors and I decided that we would keep the original word as far as possible, so that regional and unique Englishes would not be replaced by a ‘standard’ English where all differences were flattened out to an ‘internationalese’.
There are three articles included—an enjoyable, insightful interview conducted by John Mateer with Jeet Thayil, the editor of the acclaimed Bloodaxe anthology, a catalogue essay by Shilpa Phadke on the cover artist, Shakuntala Kulkarni’s use of violence in her multimedia artwork ‘and when she roared...’, and an academic essay on traumatic materialism and William Gibson by Pramod Nayar. It is an eclectic gathering, but one that emphasises the flows and connections between these voices and the creative practitioners in the issue, and gives readers a window into the robust work coming out of non-Western academic locations.'
Westerly 56:2 South/East Asia Special Issue will be available in November 2011. Single copies can be purchased for $29.95.