peteg's blog - noise - books - 2008 07 25 GrowingUpAsianInAustralia

Growing up Asian in Australia ed. Alice Pung.

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I picked this one up at the UNSW Bookshop on the strength of a Smage review. It's a real mixed bag; there are some excellent stories but too much samey-sameness to really push my buttons. The best are those that recount specific incidents which are indeed exotic to (most) other Australians, in much the same way as Henry Lawson's were a century ago. Memorable:

  • The Leaving Home section:
    • Diana Nguyen's Five ways to disappoint your Vietnamese mother.
    • Pauline Nguyen's The courage of soldiers.
    • Paul Nguyen's You can't choose your memories.
    • Emily J. Sun's These are the photographs we take.
  • Jacqui Larkin's cute Baked beans and burnt toast.
  • Blossom Beeby's account of finding her Korean birth mother, The face in the mirror.
  • Hai Ha Le's Ginseng tea and a pair of thongs.
  • Ken Chan's Quarrel.
  • Diem Vo's Family life.
  • The Battlers section: Hop Dac's Pigs from home is hilarious, as is Annette Shun Wah's Spiderbait. Lily Chan's Take me away, please is wanly endearing.
  • Kylie Kwong's My China, excerpted from her book of the same name.

There are others. On the balance I'm glad I read it, even though many stretches of tens of pages left me cold. It serves as a good entrée to authors I would not have otherwise found.