Abstract

The historical relationship between the categories of Malayan Communist fiction and People's Republic of China revolutionary historical fiction remains to be clarified, just as the Malayan Communist revolution was covertly, but undeniably, connected to the Chinese Communist Party. This essay attempts to take the PRC's revolutionary historical fiction as a reference point to reinvestigate Malayan Communist fiction, which was characterized as “historical fiction” by left-wing writers. Examples include Jin Zhimang's Hunger, Liu Jun's Wind Blowing in the Woods, and Tuo Ling's The Hoarse Mangrove Forest. The key issue is that the PRC's revolutionary historical fiction is premised on triumphalism, to authenticate the revolution's legitimacy, while Malayan Communists' revolutionary historical fiction hinges instead on the failure of revolution—though it cannot be recognized as such. How do these latter works contemplate and represent revolution? Does fiction have to rationalize the legitimacy of a failed revolution (or one mired in predicaments)? Or does fiction attempt to accomplish something else? These questions may concern the raison d’être of Malayan Chinese literary realism, which takes representing reality as its mission and investigates its underlying paradoxes.

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