“I don’t think of myself as a literary critic. I write about novels and short stories. But I am reluctant to describe what I do as “literary criticism,” as I like to move quickly beyond the literariness of a text — whether narrative techniques or quality of prose — and its aesthetic pleasures, to engage with the author’s worldview, implied or otherwise, and his or her location in history (of nation-states and empires, as well as of literary forms).
This kind of reading came naturally to me in the new, very poor and relatively inchoate Asian society in which I grew up. When I first began to read literary fiction I could assume neither a clear backdrop of political and social stability, nor a confident knowledge of the world and assumptions of national power. Everything had to be figured out, and literature was the primary means of clarifying a bewilderingly large universe of meanings and contexts.”