Episode 37: Marc Herman Lynch interviews Sheung-King, Aaron Tang
Sep 1, 2022
In this interview, Sheung-King talks with Marc Herman Lynch about his debut novel, You Are Eating an Orange, You Are Naked, which follows a translator who lives in Toronto and frequently travels abroad with his unnamed lover. The novel takes its influence from the moody cinematic dreams of Wong Kar-Wai’s films, and bars and hotel rooms in cities such as Hong Kong, Macau and Prague. Sheung-King discusses his approach to autofiction, self-orientalizing, folk tales, being okay with being in transit, and a specific type of postcolonial longing experienced by transnational Asians in diaspora.Bios:
Marc Herman Lynch is currently a PhD student at the University of Calgary and the president of filling Station magazine. Between 2014 and 2019, he was the curator of flywheel Reading Series and has also been working with the creative team at Wordsworth Youth Writing Camp for the past ten years. He resides in Moh’kins’tsis, otherwise known as Calgary, in Treaty 7 Territory, Alberta. His debut novel, Arborescent, was published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2020.
Sheung-King, Aaron Tang‘s debut novel, You are Eating an Orange. You are Naked, is a finalist for the 2021 Amazon Canada First Novel Award, longlisted for CBC’s Canada Reads 2021and named one of the best book debuts of 2020 by the Globe and Mail. Born in Vancouver, Sheung-King grew up in Hong Kong. His work examines “the interior lives of the transnational Asian diaspora” (Thea Lim, The Nation). His writing has also appeared in PRISM International, The Puritan, the Shanghai Literary Review, amongst others. Sheung-King taught creative writing at the University of Guelph and is now the creative writing coach at Avenues: The World School, Shenzhen.
6:34 – Sheung-King’s “In July, We Are All Children,” published in filling Station magazine.
8:56 – Transnational characters return in Sheung-King’s work in progress, Batshit Seven.
9:30 – Matthew Salesses’ Craft in the Real World and the distinction between eastern and western forms of narrative structure.
11:16 – Sheung-King’s undergrad studies in film and the influence of Wong Kar-Wai’s movies.
12:30 – Walter Benjamin’s advice on using quotations to break and revive the narrative.
13:18 – Self-orientalizing and the use of folk tales to break tropes and understand the characters.
16:16 – A critique of the Beat poets’ approach to translations of Chinese poetry.
17:11- The role of randomness in storytelling.
19:24 – Sheung-King reads Roland Barthes quote on the “lover’s fatal identity.”
20:13 – Wong Kar-Wai’s Hong Kong and postcolonial longing: the desire for something that has never existed.
21:11 – Transnational solidarity in being a diasporic writer living in spaces that are constantly changing.
22:06 – Translation is not a language issue.
23:05 – Byung-Chul Han on Chinese philosophy, which starts with deconstruction.
24:40 – On diasporic subjectivity and being okay with being in transit.
25:11 – Sheung-King reads from “Lanterns & Letters.”
27:20 – Sheung-King tells the story of almost getting kicked out of a taxi on the highway.
31:12 – The atrocity of Metis Atash’s Punk Buddhas and appropriating the idea of spiritual enlightenment.
34:22 – Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and the problematic representation of Bruce Lee and east Asian characters in Hollywood movies.
37:17 – References to Lost in Translation and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
38:12 – The return of Wuxia and martial choreography, for example in Grand Master: Hitman
39:40 – The implications of tech metaphors and the question of identity formation.
41:35 – The pretense of stability in Hong Kong, taking advantage of the postcolonial status of cities, and the failures of government.
44:56 – Google’s AlphaZero and AlphaGo lauded for their human-like moves.
46:00 – A metafiction moment in the novel: formal definitions of autofiction, experimentalism, biotext, autoethnography, biomythography and a reference to Audre Lorde.
47:30 – Sheung-King admits that in real life he didn’t stab the clown in Prague (who asked to be stabbed).
48:44: – “Maybe autofiction is what I picked up in past moments that I wish I could’ve made better.”
49:40 – Megan Ellis’ new book on freedom and trying to write about the “now.”
50:20 – Sheung-King’s approach to writing and making meaning out of moments of disorientation and ambiguity.
TIA House recognizes the generous support of the Canada Research Chairs program and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. We also appreciate the support of the Faculty of Arts and the Department of English at the University of Calgary, where our offices are housed, as well as the guidance of Marc Stoeckle at the Taylor Family Digital Library.
TIA House is run by Larissa Lai, Shuyin Yu, Ryan Stearne, Shazia Ramji, Rebecca Geleyn, Mikka Jacobsen, Benjamin Ghan, Amy LeBlanc, Marc Lynch, and Mahmoud Ababneh.
Our Intro/Outro music is Monarch of the Streets by Loyalty Freak Music, accessed from the Free Music Archive.