12 May 2021

A Clear Dawn: anthology of emerging Asian writers

From Nine To Noon, 11:30 am on 12 May 2021

A new book is helping to showcase the wealth of writing talent from Asian writers in New Zealand. The 75 writers featured in A Clear Dawn: New Asian Voices from Aotearoa New Zealand have roots stretching across the continent - from the northern reaches of Japan and China to the Indian subcontinent.

Just as varied are the topics they've explored - from issues around identity, displacement and social activism to rituals of food and family politics.

Paula Morris and Alison Wong have co-edited the book, which is the first-ever anthology of Asian New Zealand creative writing.

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Photo: Supplied

Wong tells Kathryn Ryan so much talent was out there but many writers weren't getting publication opportunities.

"We just went everywhere we could trying to find Asian New Zealand writers in every place, in every style, in every diverse way."

Wong says while she's always known there were many amazing Asian writers in the country, the pair came across many she didn't know about.

"We could have put a lot more people in this anthology and I have real regrets that quite a number of people are not in here," she says.

"Sometimes we missed people because we were utterly exhausted doing this, it was so much work."

Book title for A Clear Dawn

Photo: Auckland University Press

There are writers in their teenage years, through to writers in their 80s - and every decade in between - featured in the book. She says those selected might be considered as emerging writers, although that term is a little blurry.

"Everyone has a strong tie to New Zealand, whether they grew up here, lived here a long time, being a permanent resident or whatever. We have many LGBTQI+ writers, people who have affiliations with multiple countries and languages, it's very mutli-ethnic whether you're looking at the group of 75 or the individual."

The writers have each had no more than two full length books published and needed to not be considered established yet.

"It meant that there are people who are really established playwrights, or who'd been honoured in the New Zealand honours awards who didn't make it in because they are just so established and known."

Nina Mingya Powles, who is up for an Ockham book award however is one writer who was selected before she'd published new work. "Since then, she's publishing like crazy."

Those writers who were considered too established are mentioned in the book as paving the way, Wong says.

She says both she and Paula see this anthology as an opening of the door.

"This is a journey we take together, where we discover so much about our country and our people and all of the diverse people within it," she says.

"I think we've got to a tipping point where there's this rush of Asian New Zealand writers and creatives [who] are really supporting each other and encouraging each other."

Alison Wong also be appearing as part of the Auckland Writers' Festival.


Auckland Writers Festival – Book Launch
Saturday, 15 May 2021
5pm –6pm
Balcony Bar, Level 5, Aotea Centre

Wellington – Unity Books
Thursday, 27 May 2021
Unity Books, 57 Willis Street, Wellington

Napier – Napier Library
Thursday, 3 June 2021
1 Tennyson Street, Napier South, Napier

Dunedin – Dunedin City Library
Thursday, 10 June 2021
230 Moray Place, Dunedin