Chapter

Irony and the Sacred in Lee Kok Liang's Fiction

Andrew Hock Soon Ng

in Intimating the Sacred

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9789888083213
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9789882209831 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5790/hongkong/9789888083213.003.0003
Irony and the Sacred in Lee Kok Liang's Fiction

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Lee Kok Liang's fiction, as noted by many scholars, is characterized by his use of irony to foreground socio-political injustices, and subjective helplessness in the face of overwhelming forces. This chapter, however, reads Lee's irony as undermining of religious systems premised on male agendas, in order to shift power and agency proffered by religion to women. It demonstrates how one of the principle male protagonists—a Buddhist monk—is often oblivious of his own secret and unacknowledgeable lack but pretends to be “in control”, when in truth, it is his enterprising sister who, camouflaged by her gender, is able to affect success for her brother's temple. The focus of this chapter is Lee's novel, Flowers in the Sky. This chapter will also briefly discuss one of Lee's lesser known short stories, “Ibrahim Something”, in which the problem of conversion to Islam by a non-Muslim in Malaysia is foregrounded in an uncompromising manner to show the vexed racial-religious tension that still exists within the socio-cultural fabric of this multiethnic and multifaith country.

Keywords: Lee Kok Liang; irony; socio-political injustices; male agendas; gender; Flowers in the Sky; Islam

Chapter.  13659 words. 

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

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