Eurasian images of Singapore in the fiction of Rex Shelley

Edited book (chapter)


Wicks, Peter. 2002. "Eurasian images of Singapore in the fiction of Rex Shelley." Quayum, Mohammed A. and Wicks, Peter (ed.) Singaporean literature in English: a critical reader. Serdang, Malaysia. Universiti Putra Malaysia Press. pp. 377-383
Chapter Title

Eurasian images of Singapore in the fiction of Rex Shelley

Book Chapter CategoryEdited book (chapter)
Book TitleSingaporean literature in English: a critical reader
Authors
AuthorWicks, Peter
EditorsQuayum, Mohammed A. and Wicks, Peter
Page Range377-383
Number of Pages7
Year2002
PublisherUniversiti Putra Malaysia Press
Place of PublicationSerdang, Malaysia
ISBN9832373506
Abstract

In a series of four novels, amounting to a substantial personal literary output, the author Rex Shelley has fashioned a portrait of Singapore that differs significantly from the conventional ones, both official and literary. Shelley comes from the numerically small Eurasian community, and it is the distinctive historical experience of this minority, also known colloquially as mesticos, serani, or geragok, that richly frames his fiction. Yet Shelley’s achievement is often curiously overlooked in Singaporean literary criticism.

The Singapore of Rex Shelley’s fiction is not primarily the success story of the overseas Chinese who so quickly became a large and dominant majority of the Singaporean population, though their economic achievements do form a necessary context for Shelley’s works. Nor is it a nostalgic vision of Bangsa Melayu as dreamed by generations of once rural Malays. Nor is it the ravaged evocation of Indian diaspora so eloquently chronicled by K S Maniam. Rather, Shelley’s attention is upon the very human consequences of Western colonialism in Southeast Asia, namely the products of unions, legitimate or otherwise, between European males and local females. As Shelley told Ronald Klein in a recent interview “, I wanted to put down some record of the social history of this Eurasian minority community.” (1) The result is an impressive, if structurally flawed, portrait of vivid integrity amongst Singapore’s Eurasian community over time. As personified by the characters in the four novels, Shelley’s Eurasians are not marginal, post-colonial oddities, but an engaging, multi-dimensional community who laugh, cry, work, play, dream, struggle, gossip, and intrigue, just like any other. They may not be Malay, Chinese, Indian, European, or Arab, but they are involved, patriotic participants in the shaping of Singapore nonetheless

KeywordsRex Shelley, Singapore, Singpaorean literature, fiction
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020470529. South-East Asian literature (excl. Indonesian)
Public Notes

Author holds copyright.

Byline AffiliationsSchool of Humanities and Communication
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https://research.usq.edu.au/item/9y235/eurasian-images-of-singapore-in-the-fiction-of-rex-shelley

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