Sunday, February 8, 2009

literature: growing up asian in australia

That's me. I grew up/ still growing up in Australia, so of course I felt the very necessity to read it. So I did.

Let me just say something about Asian Australian writers. They are very different from the traditonal Asian writers as their style is more relaxed, less "us against them", something I can relate to more. And I like it.
Growing Up Asian was great. The stories are hilarious, touching and memorable. From stories about family and the attaching generation gap, to ones of racism and acceptance, these are anecdotes from those who have been there done that.
My favourite moments include:
Papa Bear, Chin Shen
"After calling himself John for a year, my dad realised he needed a name that symbolised something more than the average white Australian male. Something strong and heoric- something that embodied the promise and hope of his newly adopted home. But instead of looking through the phone book or a book of names for potential monikers, he took a trip to the local shopping complex. That's where he laid eyes on the brightest, reddest sign he's ever seen:
Tourism, Benjamin Law
"...This seems to be an exercise in which Asians of all nationalities, ages and socio-economic backgrounds naturally excel: buying shit. Venture into my childhood home, and in amongst the epic piles of suburban debris, you'll still find a plush blue whale wearing a Seaworld cap, T-shirts emblazoned with Kenny and Belinda- the now defunct Dreamworld mascots- and a pox of hideous fridge magnets. Oh my god, the fridge magnets."
interview, Anh Do
"What did you want to be when you were growing up?"
"I wanted to be a martial arts champion, like many young Asian kids. I once signed up for a ninjitsu class. One day I bumped into the instructor on the street and he said, 'It's been seven weeks since I've seen you in camouflage class!' I said to him, 'That's because I'm getting really good.'"
Growing Up Asian in Australia is compiled and edited by Alice Pung, a Melbourne write and lawyer and is published by Black Inc. Books.

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