Just so you know, my initial reaction to seeing this in my inbox was rolling my eyes and thinking “are you fucking serious?” My second was “Jesus why do people keep insisting on trolling me when all I’m doing is writing into this hole in the internet to cope with my life.” On the off-chance that this is a serious question and not a troll question, I’m going to answer this question seriously.
I take issue with the whole (neoliberal, white ass-kissing) premise and frame of this ask. Are you seriously saying that countries with long, painful histories of being colonized and of being exploited are in severe need of ~diversity~ and ~cultural enrichment~? (By the way, China has fifty-six ethnicities by the CCP count and over two hundred by sociologists’ counts.) Are you seriously implying that the colonial powers (the “West”) are somehow above it all because they’ve opened their doors for a few refugees to come in? If the colonial powers had any self-reflexivity and sense of shame, they would open their doors without any ands, ifs, or buts to the citizens of countries they’ve colonized and exploited. But instead, they limit the migration flow and only allow preferred migrants to enter their borders.
At Nine Worlds, I purchased a copy of Zen Cho’s beautiful collection entitled Spirits Abroad, published by the Malaysian press Buku Fixi. I was struck by the publisher’s manifesto, which appears on the back of the flyleaf. In this manifesto, the publisher states:
We will not use italics for non-American/non-English terms.
The publisher then goes on to say: “Nasi lemak and kongkek are some of the pleasures of Malaysian life that should be celebrated without apology; italics are a form of apology.”
Reading this and considering italics as a form of apology, I find myself thinking of writers coming from countries that have endured colonization, from countries where English is an imposed tongue. I find myself asking: do we really need to explain everything to the imagined Western reader? I think of italics, apologies and explanations, and the connecting line between these words.
If we have read and consumed work from writers from the West without complaint, if we have gone that extra step to fully engage with that work, surely we can trust that those who seek out our stories will also take that extra step to meet us halfway."