Language and Literature
By the mid-twentieth century, the Malaysian Chinese experienced a rather clear transition in self-identification from the “huaqiao” (overseas Chinese) to “Mahua (Malaysian Chinese).” Today, Malaysian Chinese Literature, a.k.a., “Mahua Wenxue” continues to blossom with the unique Chineseness that dissociates itself from the Mainland China, asserting its charm of localisation and ardent engagement of modernity. The writer identifies five distinct characteristics of Mahua literature in a developmental framework, namely, (a) Localisation; (b) Classical Chineseness; (c) Critical Chineseness; (d) Ideological Dechinalisation; and, (e) Natural Dechinalisation. The discussions span across iconic Mahua authors and their literary work since the 1930-ies through current day.
This article dismisses the opinion by some that the choice of today’s Mahua authors to write in the Chinese language and their inclusion of imagined China reflect the intent of sinicisation. It argues that the coexistence of the vernacular Chinese language and Malaysian nationalism forms the primary intents in the corpus of Mahua literature.
Keywords: Mahua literature, Malaysian Chinese, sinicisation, Chineseness, deChinalisation, imagined China