by Henry Lien
Discussions about diversity in the arts today focus on the importance of diverse characters and diverse creators. As crucial as that is, diversity can and should also include different story forms and themes drawn from diverse traditions. Western storytelling forms are almost entirely based on conflict, tension, and resolution, while themes are almost entirely focused on self-actualization/self-empowerment and a rising self-esteem arc. These are not the only ways to tell a satisfying story. Non-Western storytelling traditions offer radical alternatives.
The notion of what constitutes a satisfying story is heavily influenced by cultural values. To illustrate, let’s play a game. I’m going to use a very traditional Chinese/Taiwanese lens to describe a book that is well-known here in the exotic Occident.
Q. Majestic gold dragon is murdered by band of itinerant thieves.