BLS 327: Contemporary Asian Literature

In the last half-century, China, Japan, and India have undergone enormous change and become world powers. Their relations with the West have been intimate and problematic, since all of them have experienced some degree of colonization or occupation by England or the United States. The U.S. continues to have a large and controversial military presence in Japan.

This course examines the effect of those political and cultural influences on the peoples of those countries through novels by indigenous authors, novels that exhibit the difficulties and delights that Asian countries have experienced as their indigenous cultures meet the culture of the West—especially those of Great Britain and the United States. Each novel exhibits the conflict between the modern, Western world, and the old, traditional cultural forms. The characters in these novels attain varying degrees of assimilation of Western culture, and all feel the strain in some way. The focus of this course is the way the novels show the authors’ being caught between two worlds: the old, traditional culture, and the new, modern one.

All of the novels in this course have enjoyed enormous popularity in the West; two are Booker Prize winners and the others are by prize-winning authors.


  • Jin, Ha. Waiting. Vintage, 1999. ISBN 9780375706417
  • Desai, Anita. Clear Light of Day. Mariner, 2000. ISBN 9780618074518
  • Gojira. Dir. Ishirō Honda. Toho, 1954. ASIN B000FA4TLQ
  • Murakami, Haruki. Kafka on the Shore. Vintage, 2005. ISBN 9781400079278
  • Roy, Arundhati. The God of Small Things. Random House, 1997. ISBN 9780060977498