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The Whitewash | Siang Lu | Avid Reader

Sunday, 14 August 2022




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A literary star is born in Siang Lu, although he'll probably be replaced by a white guy called Jeff at some point, so get in on this while you can." Chris Flynn, author of Mammoth

Mirandi Riwoe is in-conversation with Siang Lu discussing his novel The Whitewash.

It sounded like a good idea at the time: A Hollywood spy thriller, starring, for the first time in history, an Asian male lead. With an estimated $350 million production budget and up-and-coming Hong Kong actor JK Jr, who, let’s be honest, is not the sharpest tool in the shed, but probably the hottest, Brood Empire was basically a sure thing. Until it wasn’t.

So how did it all fall apart? There were smart guys involved. So smart, so woke. So woke it hurts. There was top-notch talent across the board and the financial backing of a heavyweight Chinese studio. And yet, Brood Empire is remembered now not as a historical landmark of Asian representation that smashed the bamboo ceiling in Hollywood, but rather as a fiasco of seismic proportions.

The Whitewash is the definitive oral history of the whole sordid mess. Unofficial. Unasked for. Only intermittently fact-checked, and featuring a fool’s gallery of actors, producers, directors, film historians and scummy click-bait journalists, to answer the question of how it all went so horribly, horribly wrong.

Siang's fiction and literary reviews have appeared in Southerly and Westerly. He holds a Master of Letters from the University of Sydney. He has written for television on Malaysia's Astro network. In 2021, Siang won the Glendower Award for an Emerging Queensland Writer for The Whitewash. He is based in Brisbane, Australia, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Read more about Siang at his website.

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