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Monday musings on Australian literature: Growing up [name the aspect] in Australia

October 7, 2019

With my Japanese trip almost over, I’m posting just a quick – but nonetheless interesting, I hope – Monday Musings this week.

Anita Heiss, Growing up Aboriginal in AustraliaSome of you will have guessed what this title refers to; it’s to the little recent flurry of anthologies being published in Australia in which contributors write about growing up Asian, or Aboriginal, or name-a-specific-situation in, yes, Australia. I have read one of them, myself, Anita Heiss’s Growing up Aboriginal in Australia.

Here is a list of the books (as I’ve found), in publication date order:

Book CoverIt doesn’t take a genius to see that publisher Black Inc has got a stranglehold on the theme. You could be forgiven for being a bit cynical about bandwagons and such, except that Black Inc is a thoughtful, quality publisher, and the editors of these books are established people in their fields who have walked the talk. They have significant reputations which establish their credentials and which, I presume, they’d want to maintain. (I don’t think I’m being naive here.)

Also, in one case at least, the Disabled one, it was the editor who approached the publisher to do the book (presumably, of course, on the back of the series to date). Black Inc’s publisher Kirstie Innes-Will was apparently delighted that Findlay approached them. Innes-Will says:

Part of the strength of the Growing Up series is the way it has evolved organically, championed by editors from different communities. The way these books have been embraced by readers shows how much representation matters. Growing Up Disabled will be an invaluable contribution to that tradition.

Book coverIf you believe, as I do, that reading can open your mind to the lives and experiences of others and therefore help you understand people better, then these books (if as good as the one I have read) are worth publishing. And, if you believe, as I do, that reading about your own experience can help you understand your own life, can help you manage your own life, can perhaps even help you survive your own life, then these books (with the same proviso) are worth publishing.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. October 7, 2019 11:18 pm

    I’ve read Growing Up African and Growing Up Aboriginal, and found them both very good, a testament to the quality of the editing and to the contributors.

    • October 8, 2019 6:21 pm

      I’d love to read the African one Lisa. Actually, all are probably interesting. I’ll try to link to your African one when I get on the laptop.

      • October 8, 2019 10:25 pm

        I had a most interesting conversation with a lady from Zimbabwe today. She was a grandma taking her grandson to story time at my local library and #NotSurprising we got chatting about books. I asked her about whether we had books in her mother-tongue but wasn’t really surprised to find that there are not many books published in Shona. She said that even when they were in Zimbabwe her children saw English as the language of opportunity and weren’t interested in reading books in Shona. We had a good laugh when she said that English was easier to learn than Shona, not too many people say that about English!

        • October 9, 2019 1:06 am

          What a lovely interaction Lisa.

          BTW, I reckon Japanese would be up there, just because of its three scripts. It’s one thing to know words, but quite another to recognise them! I have a fighting start in Greece. I’ve done some transliteration and anyhow their alphabet is about the same size as ours. But Japanese?

        • October 9, 2019 9:23 am

          Any of those character languages would be hard.
          I tried learning Greek once, but only in a desultory way, it wasn’t in preparation for a trip, I was just teaching a lot of Greek-Australian kids and I was interested in their culture. I didn’t get far, but I didn’t try hard enough.
          I liked learning Russian, once I had ‘mastered’ their alphabet.

        • October 9, 2019 5:29 pm

          I transliterated Greek and Russian novel titles and authors for my first professional library job. I remember a bit of the Greek, but none of the Russian!

  2. October 8, 2019 6:33 am

    Golly, I haven’t got to the first one yet! It sits on my desk accusingly. I might give the others a miss and just deal with growing up – name your minority – in Australia as it comes up from time to time in my reading.

    • October 8, 2019 6:24 pm

      I think that is a fair enough approach Bill. I would think these books are particularly useful for schools and for people who don’t read widely.

  3. October 8, 2019 6:50 am

    I’ve read Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia. Excellent collection of texts.

    It’s is a way to learn about other people’s experience and I wish they did Growing Up Beur in France (people of North Africal origin), it would be very interesting to read.

    • October 8, 2019 6:26 pm

      Beur, that’s a new word for me Emma. Sounds like it would be a good one to be written.

  4. ian darling permalink
    October 9, 2019 11:24 pm

    In Brexit Britain a series like this might be very useful.

    • October 10, 2019 10:10 am

      At first it sounded like jumping on a bandwagon, Ian, but in fact I think it is an excellent idea-and should work in Britain too.

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