Floating Languages: Loh’s Breaking the Tongue and the Consequences of Historical Fiction

Leah A Milne


Historical fiction—particularly that written by and/or featuring people of color—has become a popular genre approached uncritically by its readers. Covering the fall of British Malaya in WWII, Vyvyane Loh’s Breaking the Tongue challenges traditional views of historical fiction. By focusing on historical revisionism, reliability, and language, this article argues that Loh confronts reader’s expectations of escapism, accuracy, and authority in the genre. In doing so, Loh asks readers to formulate a new reading practice that hinges on careful cross-cultural interaction. The novel highlights multiple perspectives to show how all history has elements of fiction, and vice versa.


postcolonial literature; Loh; Vyvyane Loh; Breaking the Tongue

Full Text: