Competing Demands, Intertwined Narratives: Ethnic, Gender and National Identities in Alison Wong´s As the Earth Turns Silver

Paloma Fresno Calleja


This article focuses on Alison Wong’s 2009 novel As the Earth Turns Silver, the first published by a New Zealand writer of Chinese descent, and considers the expectations and pressures placed on the author as a result of her ethnic background. As argued in the article, the “competing demands” affecting her as a novelist are solved by reconstructing Chinese New Zealand history as interrelated to the history of other New Zealanders. This is done, primarily, by fictionalising the interracial love story between the two protagonists, a Chinese man and a Pakeha woman, but also by contextualising their romance within a range of interrelated debates on ethnic, gender and national identity. Ultimately, Wong’s creative choices allow her to recover the silenced Chinese voice while exploring issues that were and continue to be of upmost importance for New Zealanders of all ethnic backgrounds. 


Alison Wong, Chinese New Zealand literature, ethnic identity in New Zealand, Chinese New Zealand history

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