Faculty Publication: Associate Professor of East Asian Studies Shiamin Kwa

October 5, 2022

Chapter "Tell the Truth but Tell it Slant: Mo Yan's Aesthetics of Indirection" in Epistemic Justice and Creative Agency: Global Perspectives on Literature and Film

Author: Shiamin Kwa

Source: Epistemic Justice and Creative Agency: Global Perspectives on Literature and Film, published by Routledge, September 2022

Type of Publication: Chapter in a book

Description: This article focuses on Nobel prizewinning novelist Mo Yan's use of the performative mask of a “me [who has] nothing to do with me.” In Life and Death are Wearing Me Out, the premise of reincarnation as a continuation of cycles of violence untethers actions and experiences from corporeal personhood while insisting on the persistence of a newly defined collective memory and recognition. Mo Yan's "aesthetics of indirection" calls upon the reader to recognize the various selves we inhabit in response to changing historical and environmental conditions and, most importantly, calls upon the reader to make the connections that the author does not. To address hermeneutical injustice is to develop a habit of mind capable of managing, even internalizing, the various selves in which the truth-telling voice inheres, and to continue balancing their situatedness through the story form. Truth is not the opposite of fiction in these pages, but is instead already there, slanted, in the text, waiting for the reader to look at it in the right way, and to find it out.

Shiamin Kwa is co-chair and associate professor of East Asian languages and cultures and co-director of comparative literature. 

East Asian Languages and Cultures

Comparative Literature