By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Griffith Review 30
Edited by Julianne Schultz (Text Publishing, $24.95, softcover, 260 pages)
Politics plays a restrained role in most of these stories that come as no surprise since many of them are set in the Asia-Pacific region.
The backdrops and the fixations including language barriers, cultural ignorance and isolation of individuals in prosperous metropolitan areas lend credible sophistication to this publication.
As Australia enjoys a new relationship with its neighbours, this collection makes for a wonderful way of “learning about the world”.
In her introduction, Julianne Schultz points out that the insight provided by books is not easily found in reporting or in the reality television of day-to-day politics. As an example, she emphasises the difficulty in gaining a reliable accounts of the last federal election, as we were overwhelmed with stories – each overriding the other in the campaign static – found in newspapers, on television, radio and the internet
While sense can be made of complex events through the storytelling, the thread is easily lost when events are moving quickly without clear definition of all action or motivation.
“Journalism may provide the first draft of history, but it is increasingly ill-suited to making sense of the big story, of fitting the details together, of making sense of the full complexity. It is left to us to join up the bits and make sense of it all.”
Insights can also be gained through biographies, novels and even fiction. Not only is it a form of entertainment, but also a way of learning about the world, the people and “most importantly, about consequences”.
The compilation has stories from Australian as well as New Zealand, French and Chinese writers with an impressive contributors list that includes 2010 Miles Franklin winner Peter Temple, some promising new talent together with original poetry, an essay, and memoir pieces from Luke Davies and Kate Holden.
This annual fiction edition will provide some awareness into what it means to be “alive in the emerging Asian century”.
Edition 405, 15 April 2014
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.