With my Japanese trip almost over, I’m posting just a quick – but nonetheless interesting, I hope – Monday Musings this week.
Some 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:
- Growing up Asian in Australia, edited by Alice Pung (2008, Black Inc): I haven’t read this, but Alice Pung has appeared a few times in my blog.
- Growing up Aboriginal in Australia, edited by Anita Heiss (2018, Black Inc) (my review)
- Growing up African in Australia, edited by Maxine Beneba Clarke, with Ahmed Yussuf and Magan Magan (2019, Black Inc): I haven’t reviewed this, but I have reviewed her memoir The hate race, which proves her qualifications for this one!
- Growing up Muslim in Australia, edited by Amra Pajalic and Demet Divaroren (2019, Allen & Unwin)
- Growing up Queer in Australia, edited by Benjamin Law (2019, Black Inc)
- Growing up Disabled in Australia, edited by Carly Findlay (to be published 2020)
It 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.
If 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.