(Taiwan, 1971) is a writer and essayist with Malaysian roots. His globally successful debut novel The Harmony Silk Factory was translated into more than twenty languages and won renowned literary prizes. His second book, Map of the Invisible World (2009) was also an instant international success. Both books deal with Asia's recent colonial past. The second novel is partly set in the turbulent 1960s in Indonesia; his characters make tangible the effects that political decisions can have on ordinary people. Subsequently, Aw published the novels Five Star Billionaire (2013) and We, the Survivors (2019), as well as the non-fiction book The Face: Strangers on a Pier (2016), in which he explores modern Asia through his own family story of migration and adaptation.(WU2024)
Archive available for: Tash Aw
Where do we belong? One of the most fundamental questions of humanity. A question writers have been asking themselves for years. The many different answers to this are an important part of our literature and heritage.
We found the perfect authors to reflect on this big question: Alejandra Ortiz and Aminatta Forna. Where to Belong is a theme that returns in various ways in their publications, books and essays, and touches on important themes such as identity, gender and migration.
Alejandra Ortiz and Aminatta Forna wrote down their thoughts on this subject in advance and presented their stories during the event. An interactive talk followed, led by host Shantie Singh.
Writers tell us about their favourite book: the book that inspires or touches them, that set their artistic, moral or intellectual compass. In short, the book they would recommend to everyone. Interview: Hassnae Bouazza.
Tash Aw chose as his favorite Giovanni's Room, the 1956 novel by James Baldwin. The book focuses on the events in the life of an American man living in Paris and his feelings and frustrations with his relationships with other men in his life, particularly an Italian bartender named Giovanni whom he meets at a Parisian gay bar.
Whether literature offers solace or confusion, whether it shows the way or disorders, every writer must have been moved in the course of his or her life by a passage, a line, an image or a poem which gave direction to his or her life. Was it a boys' book? A text on a tile? A column? Or rather that highly valued, often quoted passage from world literature? Jonathan Safran Foer, Tash Aw, Ramsey Nasr, Joke van Leeuwen and Petina Gappah read those passages that changed their lives for good, and reveal what happened to them when they read those lines for the first time. The programme starts with a reading from his work by the Iranian author Shahriar Mandanipour.
The Malaysian writer Tash Aw and the Indonesian journalist Andreas Harsono talk about Indonesia as a country of purely outsiders. The characters in Aw's latest novel, Map of the Invisible World, all belong in Indonesia, while being outsiders at the same time. Aw's first novel, The Harmony Silk Factory also was on outsider, but then it dealt with the position of the Chinese in Southeast Asia. Non-fiction writer Andreas Harsono works as a journalist in Indonesia, and in addition writes for a Malaysian paper. He is busy writing a book with the meaningful title A Nation in Name: Debunking the Myth of Indonesian Nationalism. In the discussion we take the year 1964 in Aw's novel as a starting-point, the year in which Indonesia balanced on the verge of civil war. From there the writers, travelling through time, look at the country with the eyes of outsiders. Who was an outsider, and when? How did they view Indonesia? What does it look like now: who are the outsiders today, and who is 'within'? Host: VPRO radio journalist Paul van der Gaag. In English