Great Female Contemporary East Asian Writers – Part 1

There have been some great female writers that have come from Asia, and Asian Literature can mean literature written by Asian’s or text that has Asian themes and topics. Actually Asian literature can be further split up into cultural divides as shown below:

  • East Asian Literature
  • West Asian Literature
  • Southeast Asian Literature
  • Central Asian Literature
  • North Asian Literature

In this blog we feature female authors that come from East Asia, which includes Korea, China and Japan. We study their great works and learn about who they are and what they love to write about. In Korea and Japan in particular, the writers seem to have the greatest creative spirits and their female insight comes to the fore in their works.

Banana Yoshimoto

One member of the new generation of Japanese writers whose work is both passionate and powerful. Her issues are mostly about relationships, be they in the family or romantic. And are relayed in a rather personal manner empathizing with the characters. Often her topics include LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) characters, which is a way to clarify that all people should be included on commentary about humankind. Another side of Yoshimoto is her powerful criticism of the dark side of Japanese society.

No theme is taboo, and all of her books are a journey that the reader takes with her from start to conclusion. To amplify this her book Kitchen concentrates on the brevity of existence and how the joys of life can be ever so fleeting. It is Banana Yoshimoto’s originality that makes her one of the most striking of all East Asian writers today.

Han Kang

This contemporary Korean writer is making big waves in the world of literature both at home and internationally. Han Kang is a master of looking at modern society and to point out how fragile aspects of it are. The themes in her work are common problems that many face every day, but it is the style that Han Kang delivers then that really sets her apart from her peers. Hang Kang writes in almost ethereal ways that at times could be called otherworldly. The effect of her writing on the reader is profound, and each of her books, though unique, will affect all in a different manner. If you wish to sample her work then The White Book is an excellent place to start.

The story is simple, it is about everyday things in life and our exploration of them. There is an abundance of snow on every page, perhaps that explains the title! And every other page is deliberately left blank, drawing the reader into a pure white space to contemplate what has gone on before.

These blank pages are interspersed with beautiful and considerate black and white photos, that were taken by Han herself. These images all add to the overall effect of the book, they place ideas and form opinions in the reader’s mind that will be different to every individual reader. In part two of our blog to discover the best contemporary East Asian writers we continue with Hiromi Kawakami.