Fictionalized History: Signifying Changes to the Malaysian Nation and Identity

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Author: Sim Chee Cheang, University Malaysia Sabah, Malaysia
Published: April 2012
https://doi.org/10.22492/ijl.1.1.04

Citation: Sim, C. C. (2012). Fictionalized History: Signifying Changes to the Malaysian Nation and Identity. IAFOR Journal of Literature & Librarianship, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijl.1.1.04


Abstract

As one of the cornerstones of fiction, writers often use and confront history in their claim to “reality” and “identity” in their writing. Linda Hutcheon’s claim for “a postmodern concern for the multiplicity and dispersion of truth(s); truth(s) relative to the specificity of place and culture” (1988, p. 108) is relevant to the use of history in recent Malaysian literature. The multiple and varied claims of truth(s) as reflected through the fictionalizing of Malaysian history is the focus of the analysis in this article, which aims to expose the social, economic, and political implications of the Malaysian identity. The analysis of three current works of fictionalized Malaysian history from the different fictional genres of comic series, children’s history, and occidental history, represents a cross section of genres that challenge the supremacy of history’s ontological claim over identity. The deliberate contestation of received Malaysian history in fictional modes acknowledges the peripheral identity structures of race, religion, and economics that are sensitive in a multiracial country such as Malaysia.

Keywords

fiction, history, Malaysia, national identity