Nury Vittachi

Nury Vittachi

The Asian columnist employs subversive humor amid religious and government tensions.
Nury Vittachi
Image: Courtesy of Nury Vittachi
Hong Kong | @NuryVittachi

Faith, race, culture, politics, science, and history can be delicate issues to write about anywhere. But they’re especially difficult, even dangerous, to cover when you’re a journalist addressing religious opposition and challenging the most repressive governments throughout Asia.

Nury Vittachi, born in Sri Lanka and based in Hong Kong, not only writes about these topics but jokes about them. He uses humor in his articles, weekly columns, and novels to encourage dialogue between Christians and Muslims, atheists and people of faith, and scientists and science skeptics. Through lighthearted yet subversive barbs, Vittachi has also used his platform to critique oppressive governments in Asia—and as a result has been sacked from a number of jobs.

“Christianity triggers hostility in many parts of Asia, so I avoid being serious or preachy and instead go for a goofy loser stance,” said Vittachi. “When people express puzzlement that a religious person can have such a wicked sense of humor, I say, ‘I belong to a sinners-only faith, and I’m top of the league table.’ ”

His colorful background—born to a Buddhist mother and Muslim father, married to a Catholic-raised Englishwoman, and father to three adopted Chinese children—has equipped him to connect with people from a panoply of contexts. His million-strong audiences are primarily made up of atheists, Muslims, and Hindus.

In addition, Vittachi has played a key role in the formation of the Asia Literary Review, the Man Asian Literary Prize, and the new World Readers’ Award.

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