Literature in Asian countries has a long and varied history that has been influenced by politics, religious and cultural thoughts and attitudes.
Traditional Asian literature, particularly in China and Japan, revolved around poetry. The Chinese and Japanese poets created pictures with words, and they developed very structured ways of doing this. Many poetry forms began in Asian countries. One example of this is the haiku, a Japanese poetry style where the poet must use a certain number of syllables per line.
The Arabic tradition also has a rich literary history beginning with the Arabic holy text, the Qu’ran.
Most classic Asian literature is religious or serious in nature. Literature for entertainment did not often appear in Asian cultures until more modern times. Although, Chinese culture boasts fiction written for the common person as early as the Ming Dinisty.
Modern Asian literature has become very popular among Asian people as well as scholars from other countries. Asian writers are turning to fiction as a way of expressing emotion and artistic tendencies. Literature is also used to comment on modern culture.
There are many Asian American writers today publishing novels about life in various Asian cultures during different times in history. This has opened the sometimes secretive world of many Asian cultures to Western people as well as Asian people.
Amy Tan is an example of an Asian American writer who has become successful writing about Asian culture. She has published books like “The Joy Luck Club” and “The Kitchen God’s Wife.” Other popular Asian American writers include Lisa See who wrote “Shanghai Girls” and Haruki Murakami who wrote “Kafka on the Shore”. Some popular novels with Asian settings or themes are written by non-Asian authors. One such example is “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden.