Han Suyin's picnic in Malaya: A story: A lament on the unending misery of womanhood in the newly independent Malaya by a Chinese doctor

Ken, Danny Wong Tze and Kuek, Florence and Wah, Fan Pik (2021) Han Suyin's picnic in Malaya: A story: A lament on the unending misery of womanhood in the newly independent Malaya by a Chinese doctor. Interdisciplinary Studies of Literature, 5 (3). pp. 420-431. ISSN 2520-4920,

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Abstract

When Han Suyin passed away in 2012, the world remembered her for her description of life in China, the East-West dialogue found in her writings. Little is known of the thirteen years she spent in Malaya and Singapore. It was during this sojourn at the region that Han Suyin was able to spend more time on her medical practices. It was during this period that Han was able to produce some very distinctive writings including her creative writings but also most productive in addressing social ills during the era. It is in this light that this paper will examine `Picnic in Malaya,' a short story by Han Suyin which focuses on the question of social inequity and ethical predicaments that shrouded the Malay community at a time when the country first claimed independence. The euphoria of the new-found freedom of a new nation is contrasted with the reality on the ground-the plights of the Malay women who found their condition remained unchanged. Through the pen of Han Suyin, a Chinese female medical doctor cum writer, the voice of a recognizable group of ladies cruelly abandoned by their husbands are heard. Nevertheless, ` Picnic in Malaya' brings one's attention to the necessary changes to the inner fabric of a new nation within which the old ethical order has yet to undergo reconstruction. All in all, the ethical choice of Han Suyin to boldly present such a critical story during the Malayan Independence reflects the didactic function of literature as propagated in Nie Zhenzhao's ethical literature criticism.

Item Type: Article
Funders: UNSPECIFIED
Uncontrolled Keywords: Malaya; Divorce; Han Suyin; Ethical literary criticism; Ethical choice
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Department of China Studies
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Department of History
Depositing User: Ms Zaharah Ramly
Date Deposited: 09 May 2022 08:16
Last Modified: 09 May 2022 08:16
URI: http://eprints.um.edu.my/id/eprint/27085

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