Henry W. Leung posted a review of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal's 12th issue recently on the Lantern Review Blog. I was impressed that he had a detractor in his comments who called his use of words like "abstruse," "dialectical," "vernacular," "colloquial" among several others "arcane." When I think of arcane words, none of these come to mind. Not even Old English like "yonder" and "thither" would register for me. I'd think of words that are dead or that were used back in ancient or classical times. Maybe ekphrasis, but I digress.
The other interesting thing about Henry's review is that Cha decided to review his review of them in a post on their blog, found here. They believe that Henry posed a valid question: what constitutes "Asian" literature or writing? In this post, they stand by their editorial choices, however, it sounds like they, too, are unsure of what constitutes "Asian" writing. Does the author simply have to be from Asia or should the material touch on "Asian" themes? It's something they're pondering for future issues.
These two posts, in dialogue with each other, as well as their comments underscore two ideas I've been wrestling with lately. One, is the impact of dialogue itself. stephenhongsohn brought the idea of juxtaposition in choosing where and how to place pieces in an anthology (or a literary journal) to my attention in my last post. And now, here are two reviews of each other, in turn, wrestling with what is Asian, or for that matter Asian American, literature? pylduck addressed this question in terms of AA Lit in his review of Sigrid Nunez's The Last of Her Kind, found here, and since we didn't get into it then, I thought now might be a good time if fostering discussion is a goal here. It seems to be an issue that's consistently raised regarding ethnic writing. Where does everyone here stand, or do you stand?