Tash Aw Archive

Scope and Content

Typescripts, editorial comments and correspondence, agent and publishers' correspondence, short stories (published and unpublished), markups of published reviews, one artwork.

BOX 1 Harmony Silk Factory (2005)

Typescript proof with comments from editor at Fourth Estate, Nick Pearson [loose leaves].

Typescript proof with comments from editor, Lindsay [?]. 'Lindsay's (dreaded) markup' [loose leaves].

Pastel drawing (b&w) of a traditional Chinese street. On verso: 'Cadeau de F., Hoi An → Singapour, 2013'. The drawing is signed and dated 2002.

BOX 2 Harmony Silk Factory (2005)

TYPESCRIPT Original typescript with comments in three parts [comments by ?]. Each part is bound in a comb-binder. There are two copies of 'Part 3: The Garden', but they have different comments.

EXTRACT FOR AGENTS, 2002-2003 Extract of the novel in progress, provisionally titled Harmony Silk Factory . The extract was sent to agents in 2002/03. It consists of the first few pages of each of the three parts of the story.

DAVID GODWIN (AGENT), 2002 Covering letter to David Godwin Associates (agent), 10/12/02, with extract of Harmony Silk Factory .

PSICHOGIOS (GREEK PUBLISHER), 2003 Email correspondence between David Godwin Associates (literary agency) and Elly Solomon of the Greek publisher Psichogios. An initial advance offer is made for a Greek version of The Harmony Silk Factory. A day later the figure is increased by a third.

FOURTH ESTATE (UK PUBISHER), 2004 Editorial comments from Silvia Crompton, Fourth Estate. With reference to 'NP' [Nick Pearson]. Pearson returns proofs for Aw to read.

RIVERHEAD BOOKS (US PUBLISHER), 2004 Letter exchange with editor Cindy Spiegel of Riverhead Books (Penguin Group), New York which relates to edits of Harmony Silk Factory . Includes Spiegel's edit notes with Aw's reply, 2004. Also included is correspondence with Spiegel's colleague Susan Ambler.

Includes author questionnaire sent by Marilyn Ducksworth of [Riverhead Books]. This is completed by Aw. Shows his editor's name as Cindy Spiegel and literary agent as David Godwin. Includes Aw's description of the book and biography description including what led him to write the book. He touches on his wandering childhood and his desire to reshape the east's view of Malaya in the 30s and 40s. He would convey this through the characters who are ordinary people living there. Also described is his early working life in London and his placement on the Creative Writing Course at UEA.

BOX 3 UNPUBLISHED SHORT STORIES (Author's note: these are the only existing copies – no digital versions survive).

Stargazer (1994) It's Beautiful (1995) Things We Do (1996) Peter and Kim (1996) Headlines (1999/2000) Billy Loke (2004) Floodwater (2005/06) + handwritten notes + markups on 3 drafts

SHORT STORIES WITH NOTES, MARKUPS, ETC. Notes from a Desert Sketchbook . Off the Edge, Issue 07, 2005. Published article + notes (draft).

Sail . A Public Space, 2010, + edit notes and email exchanges with the acclaimed short story writer Yiyun Li + images sources for setting + markups on various drafts.

The American Brick Problem . Prospect, Issue 122, 2006. Early handwritten notes, 2002. Three leaves with double-sided writing.

MARKUPS OF PUBLISHED REVIEWS The Disappeared by Kim Echlin Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski Beijing Coma by Ma Jian The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong (pseudonym)

Administrative / Biographical History

Born in Taipei, Taiwan, to Malaysian parents of Chinese descent, Tash Aw grew up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with short spells in Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia. He had a multilingual upbringing, speaking Malay, Mandarin, Cantonese and English during his youth. He came to England in his teens and later studied law at Jesus College, Cambridge and at the University of Warwick before moving to London to write. After graduating he worked at a number of jobs, including as a lawyer for four years while writing his debut novel, which he completed during the creative writing course at the University of East Anglia. He commenced the course in the Autumn of 2002 and the draft manuscript of The Harmony Silk Factory was completed in September 2003 and published in 2005. The novel was longlisted for the 2005 Man Booker Prize and won the 2005 Whitbread Book Awards First Novel Award as well as the 2005 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Novel (Asia Pacific region). It also made it to the long-list of the world's prestigious 2007 International Impac Dublin Award and the Guardian First Book Prize. It has thus far been translated into twenty languages. Aw cites his literary influences as Joseph Conrad, Vladimir Nabokov, Anthony Burgess, William Faulkner and Gustave Flaubert.

His second novel, titled Map of the Invisible World , was released in May 2009 to critical acclaim, with TIME Magazine calling it "a complex, gripping drama of private relationships," and describing "Aw's matchless descriptive prose" and "immense intelligence and empathy." His 2013 novel Five Star Billionaire was longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize. His work of non-fiction The Face: Strangers on a Pier was published in 2016 and became a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize.

His work has won an O. Henry Prize and been published in The New Yorker, the London Review of Books, A Public Space and the landmark Granta 100, amongst others. He is also a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times.


The collection is one of many individual deposits forming part of the wider British Archive for Contemporary Writing, est. 2015.

BOX 1 Harmony Silk Factory (2005)

BOX 2 Harmony Silk Factory (2005)



Conditions Governing Access

Available for private, non-commercial research.

Other Finding Aids

Conditions Governing Use

Relevant copyright permissions must be obtained before any reproductions of documents can be made. The University of East Anglia does not hold copyrights for any material in this collection. Please address all copyright enquiries to Tash Aw or Wiley Agency (Aw's Literary Agent).

Custodial History

This collection has been loaned to the British Archive for Contemporary Writing by the creator. Box one was delivered in April 2015; a further two boxes followed.

Personal Names