Today I’m posting about the book I’m giving away as part of the Australia Day Blog Hop.
Apart from Australia’s Indigenous peoples, we are all descendants of expatriates. Arnold Zable
To be released on Australia Day, this is a first in Australian publishing — a ‘must-read’ collection of twenty-seven short memoirs of writers (seventeen of them by women) describing their experience of expatriation to Australia. I’m celebrating its arrival and hoping it is merely the first of more to come.
With a foreword by Miles Franklin Award-winner Alexis Wright and an introduction by Arnold Zable, the anthology has been compiled and edited by two expat Americans (Kent MacCarter from Chicago and Ali Lemer from NYC).
We wanted to give native-born Australians an outsider’s insight into their country. A national literature needs to encompass all Australian stories to truly reflect the modern nation we have become — no matter how we got here. Kent MacCarter and Ali Lemer
These stories are about the concept of ‘home’ — leaving it, losing it, chasing it and finding it; about the things we bring with us and the things we leave behind; about place, identity and memories — memories retained by the body and by the mind. There are stories about words, language and writing; about food, eating and cooking; about what it means to ‘feel Australian’ — or not; about intolerance and ignorance, about love and acceptance. Readers will encounter many different responses, impressions and emotions here: joy, pain, grief, humour, nostalgia, guilt, anger.
The stories in this book are those of writers from all over the world and offer a marvellous dream of what Australia could be: a country able to embrace the world’s humanity with all of its cultures. But Australia is yet to reconcile its illegal occupation and dismal history of dealing with its Aboriginal people. Alexis Wright
This is a complete list of contributors and their country of origin:
Alexis Wright (Australia), Arnold Zable (Poland b. NZ), Dmetri Kakmi (Turkey), Alice Pung (Cambodia b. Aus), Maria Tumarkin (Russia), Michael Sala (Netherlands), Meg Mundell (New Zealand), Paola Totaro (Italy), Chi Vu (Vietnam), Malla Nunn (Swaziland), Amy Espeth (USA), Roanna Gonsalves (India), Michelle Aung Thin (Burma), Chris Flynn (Ireland), Diane Armstrong (Poland), Ghassan Hage (Lebanon), Ouyang Yu (China), Danny Katz (Canada), Mark Dapin (UK), Deborah Carlyon (Papua New Guinea), Adib Khan (Bangladesh), Ali Alizadeh (Iran), Lily Yulianti Farid (Indonesia), Juan Garrido-Salgado (Chile), Catherine Rey (France), Shalini Akhil (Fiji), Val Colic-Peisker (Croatia), Hsu-Ming Teo (Malaysia), Samina Yasmeen (Pakistan).
I’m including this book as part of my Australian Women Writers Challenge for 2013 as it’s a great way to discover women writers we may not have read before. I recommend it as a wonderful resource for all readers interested in Australian writing, multiculturalism and diversity and for other Challenge participants who are also looking to broaden their reading experience. Short bios and a list of works are provided in the Author Biographies section. I’d love to see it read in schools. Being a daughter of migrants who came to Australia just before the outbreak of WWII, elements of many stories resonated deeply with me. Although I may not have lived the stories of my family, I carry their imprint. As Alexis Wright says, “We are all people of stories.”
PEN Freedom to write … freedom to read
I have to put a plug in here for PEN as PEN Melbourne is a patron of the collection. PEN is an international organisation which defends free expression and the written word and campaigns for persecuted, harassed and imprisoned writers. Yes disclaimer (I’m off to renew my lapsed membership and I’m a former guest editor of the PEN Quarterly).
The writers in this anthology offer insights that reflect the aspirations and vision of PEN International. As the PEN charter affirms, literature knows no boundaries. PEN was founded on the premise that the written word is precious. Good writing transports us across borders and cultures. In sharing our tales, we come to recognise both our differences and what unites us. There cannot be one without the other. Arnold Zable
If you would like to win a copy of Joyful Strains (I’m giving away two copies to entrants within Australia), please post a comment below. In 25 words or less tell me which stories you’re most interested in reading from this anthology and why. Winners will be chosen using random.org (randomly that is). Entries close at midnight on Monday January 28th and winners will be announced by 4 February. This competition is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered.
And the winners are: Jacqueline, and Rebecca Brown. Congratulations! You have been notified by email.