The book also offers ideas about how we might find a way through this crisis and into a more equitable and safer Australia. But it is ruthless in its analysis of the way contemporary news media and gossip cycles still demonise and sexualise women. The novel explores the very different ways women resist or accommodate to their treatment; but it is really about the structures of patriarchy, influential far beyond the confines of the nuclear heterosexual family. Recommended for: any male politician who says he is sympathetic to women because he is married to one or has daughters.
I must acknowledge a possible conflict of interest here by noting that I have a poem in this anthology, but Writing to the Wire UWA Publishing, is an extraordinarily powerful collection of poems by and about maritime asylum seekers. Three years later, the editors and the contributors to this anthology — not to mention those indefinitely detained by the Australian government — are still hoping.
Hearing Maud UWA Publishing, by Jessica White is a beautifully told story about two people living nearly one hundred years apart, and their experience of deafness. The first is the author herself, Jessica White, who suffered significant and permanent hearing loss following an illness at the age of four. Jessica looks into the life of this forgotten daughter of a largely forgotten writer and finds haunting parallels with her own situation.
In Dark Emu Magabala Books, , Bruce Pascoe amasses a cogent case that Indigenous Australians farmed their land, lived in villages, built houses, harvested cereals and built complex aquaculture systems — and how settler Australians wilfully misunderstood this. The resulting anthology is even more pertinent post-Federal election, and the recent diplomacy fail in Tuvalu.
Reading expands our capacity for empathy.
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Username or Email Address. I went through a phase where I used my closet door as a board for post-its. One per chapter to document the critical points so that I can keep the story straight, or move around the post-it notes to try a different story flow.
Let me ask about something very specific when it comes to writing. You had some brutal scenes in both novels, but especially in The Golden Son , which contained scenes I found very, very hard to read. Not just physical violence but mental and psychological abuse. SG: To be honest, it was very difficult for me. It was tough for me to write through that brutality, and every time I did a read-through or a re-write and I got to that scene, I had an emotional reaction to it. Even now, it still hits me. How do I do it?
Well, I spend a lot of time dancing around it, trying to avoid it, going around it. Then I just put myself into the character and try to live through it in my mind. And in Dragon Springs Road , I was really impressed by the amount of historical research I know you must have done to craft a story so full of details from that time period.
How do you do it? JC: For my first novel, Three Souls , I really lucked out because the story and era were based on family history. Most of my research for that book was reading up on the major social and political incidents from those early years of the Chinese republic, to make sure my characters responded to the turmoil of those events at the right time!
For Dragon Springs Road , that was tougher. Specifically I needed to know how Eurasian orphans lived and how they were treated. I knew that they were rejected by both Chinese and Western society and that for some, mission orphanages and schools were their only hope for a better life. You can find entire websites about battles and generals, but no one wrote about children who were an embarrassment. I also read biographies and memoirs of Chinese women from that era, because they wrote about their extended family and paid more attention to the other women in their lives, including servants.
And again, I was able to make use of anecdotes from family history to add richness and detail. Then see whether I need to change the plot or timelines for the sake of historical accuracy, or maybe the research will turn up material that makes for a stronger story. And your degree is not in medicine or science. How did you approach it? But that was the story that captivated me, and I thought Anil Patel belonged in the field of medicine, with its high stakes and prevalent moral questions.
So, I dove into research to understand the medical profession and the trials of a young intern. I read several books, both fictionalized accounts and memoirs, about the residency experience. I interviewed many, many doctors, starting with my personal network and expanding outward to specific specialties I needed to understand. Fortunately, I never fainted on one of them. I was a little intimidated by my own squeamish mind crafting a story rooted in the medical, but I had to follow it there.
How does the idea for a new novel come to you? Ideas simmer away in your subconscious, both the main premise of a novel and the anecdotes you end up using to create small moments and scenes. When that story idea and the inspiration behind it infiltrate from your subconscious to your conscious mind, it becomes impossible to resist. It becomes the story you have to tell. For my third novel, I thought I had it all worked out. It was an interesting premise, an interesting era, I had access to insider information, and I had a pretty good synopsis all mapped out.
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SG: Yes! I have definitely developed a strong sense of respect and awe for my sub-conscious mind as well. For example, when I read your novels, I must admit I was surprised to learn how common it is in India for ultrasounds to be used to determine the sex of a fetus so that families can decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy, and how some women are forced to terminate pregnancies, not to mention suffer in silence over infanticide. And now that technology can predict gender more accurately than fortune tellers, families can act on their cultural preferences.
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This has created gender imbalance in both countries. In China, the one-child policy has exacerbated the imbalance even more but I suppose there is a measure of progress in that families now value the one child they have, regardless of gender. Girls are given the attention and education previously reserved for boys. In rural areas, the worst case scenarios are bride trafficking, kidnapping and virtual enslavement of young women, and rape. What about you? Are things changing for girls and women, or do they still face the same levels of maltreatment as in the past?
SG: Change is coming, but slowly.
I get this question a lot from people who want to know if practices like infanticide of girls still happen in India, why or why not, and how things can change in the future. I usually answer by explaining some of the internal contradictions regarding gender not only in Indian culture, but in the West as well. Some things are undoubtedly better for a girl born today in India, but there is still a gender imbalance in the population and other challenges abound.
Janie, we both have multiple aspects to our identities—in your case, both Chinese and Canadian. How do you answer when people ask you which culture you most identify with? Back in the s to be Chinese was to be a very visible minority. But even then, the pressure to maintain two separate identities came from my family—or to be more specific, from my father. Sometimes I felt as though what he wanted from me was a well-behaved form of schizophrenia, a condition where I was so perfectly assimilated that I would attract only minimal discrimination outside, but still be able to enter our home and turn into the obedient traditional daughter.
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But that was just my father. It came from an Asian-Canadian man and there was definitely an undercurrent of probing for loyalty or at the very least, probing for preference. And I was taken aback because I had never really thought of identifying myself exclusively as one or the other.