Bias, She Wrote

Clara Chow, “Bias, She Wrote,” The Strait Times 13 October 2015

I have no answer to those questions, nor am I sure if this comparison is fair. But the controversy has convinced me of one thing at least: that we never read innocently — that is, without consuming the writer’s identity in some way. As Andrew Gallix wrote in his introduction to the satirical Biographical Dictionary Of Literary Failure: “Literary biography is a by-product of literature: the writer’s life is read, à rebours, in the light of her works.”

Conversely, one might read a writer’s work differently, after finding out something particularly intriguing or unsavoury about her life. We are always reading with or against the grain of who we think the writer is. In submitting my own fiction to international journals, I always state in the first line of my cover letter that I am a writer from Singapore. The off-chance that an overseas editor might find my nationality interesting, I admit, factors in that decision.

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