Lost in Transition: An Analysis of Post-colonial Dilemma and National Identity in Three Contemporary Novels from East and Southeast Asia

Thanis Bunsom


After several centuries of being colonised by European powers, East and Southeast Asian countries were struggling to come to terms with their post-colonial national identities. Post-independent dilemmas were rooted in the core issues of cultural fragmentation and individualistic alienation in which formerly-colonised citizens felt at loss spiritually within their newly-demarcated political borders. Not knowing which cultural direction their countries were going to take, people faced the quandary of straddling the opposite world of East and West. This alarming issue has become a focal point in a lot of contemporary literature from East and Southeast Asia, reflecting the people and countries’ ongoing quests to find their places in the modern global society. This paper analyses such dilemmas and their unremitting search of identity through three contemporary novels from Macau, Indonesia and Singapore. The Bewitching Braid (Macau) by Henrique de Senna Fernandes explores the unknown fate of independence faced by the Chinese, Macanese and Portuguese alike. Abdoel Moeis’s Never the Twain (Indonesia) is an allegory for Indonesia in a political transition and a struggle towards a national identity. Mammon Inc. by Hwee Hwee Tan deals vigorously with the Singaporean society, torn between the Taoist values of the Eastern world and the technological advance of its Western counterpart.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n15p615

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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