FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
The lack of Asian literature and art in general has always felt othering to me — however, in an already undiverse creative scene, the lack of prominent Southeast Asian creatives within the Asian literary community struck me as a reflection of not only the alienation of Southeast Asians from dominant Western society, but also the alienation of Southeast Asians from an Asian community so influenced by East Asian culture. With the creation of Rambutan Literary, I hoped to help fill the gaps previously disallowed Southeast Asian creatives.
Rambutan as a name for this journal seemed so quintessentially Southeast Asian, as the rambutan fruit is not only grown all throughout both mainland and maritime Southeast Asia, but also is a fruit less commonly affiliated with East Asia. At first glance, the rambutan seems inedible, a daunting task just to open with its vibrant red color and many spikes, but the rambutan flesh inside is a lovely off-white, and is soft, slightly tangy, and sweet. Just as the rambutan fruit is strange and formidable, the region, too, seems to those unknowing a place rough and is a place often grouped together with the rest of the continent. But Southeast Asia is not East Asia, nor is it South Asia, though both have influenced the region.
Many Southeast Asian peoples have had a strong tradition of storytelling - through verse, through song, through dance, through life itself. It would only be fitting to create a space to showcase Southeast Asian literature, especially with how diverse and expressive mainland, maritime, and diaspora communities are.
I sincerely hope that Rambutan Literary will become a place for Southeast Asian literature to flourish just as Southeast Asian people have managed to survive and prosper despite perpetual conflict and suppression. I do wish for Rambutan Literary to become a home for Southeast Asian literature and its writers, a place where branches and roots may meet uninterrupted, and thrive.
This is a dream coming into fulfilment—the hope that both branches and roots can be reunited in harmony.
Do Nguyen Mai