Aus­tralian sto­ries

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - JOY­FUL STRAINS Edited by Kent MacCarter and Ali Le­mer Af­firm Press, $ 24.95 BLANCHE CLARK

MICHELLE Aung Thin re­calls a stranger on a St Kilda Rd tram, a cou­ple of weeks af­ter she ar­rived from Canada, giv­ing her an im­promptu guided tour.

In the an­thol­ogy Joy­ful Strains she writes: ‘‘ Flin­ders St Sta­tion,’’ he said, with tri­umph in his voice. ‘‘ She isn’t meant to be there, you know. She was meant for Bom­bay. Some­one in an of­fice got the plans mixed up. She is in the wrong place.’’

‘‘ I know ex­actly how that sta­tion feels,’’ Aung Thin replied.

The idea of be­ing lost in tran­sit sticks in her mind and she doesn’t care if the man’s story is un­likely to be true. Born in Burma but raised in Canada, she has learnt the trick of in­hab­it­ing places, par­tic­u­larly Ran­goon, through her fam­ily’s sto­ries and mem­o­ries rather than phys­i­cal pres­ence.

Adib Khan came to Mel­bourne from Bangladesh in 1973 to study at Monash Univer­sity and was in­doc­tri­nated by a friend on how to be a Hawthorn sup­porter. ‘‘ I had to be firmly bi­ased to­wards the play­ers and the club. All um­pir­ing de­ci­sions against Hawthorn were wrong, our play­ers never fouled and when we lost, an in­ter­na­tional con­spir­acy had pre­vailed,’’ he writes.

Chris Flynn saw Aus­tralia as a place to rein­vent him­self, to cast off the shadow of North­ern Ire­land and the stereo­type of be­ing Ir­ish.

‘‘ I do not drink Guin­ness. I hate it. It tastes like blood. I do not like River­dance. Michael Flat­ley is creepy, and all those be­atific dancers clad in green Ly­cra, clop­ping around a stage like ex­tras in a bad Monty Python sketch make me cringe with em­bar­rass­ment,’’ he writes.

The three au­thors are among 27 who have contributed to Joy­ful Strains – pub­lished to co­in­cide with Aus­tralia Day.

The an­thol­ogy’s edi­tors, Kent MacCarter and Ali Le­mer, say the writ­ers ex­plore what it’s like to start over in a new coun­try and ‘‘ how their na­tive cul­tures add to and con­trast against the dy­nam­ics of Aus­tralian life’’. The name of the book, Joy­ful Strains, re­flect the joys and strains the 27 au­thors have felt set­tling here. Racism, cul­tural con­flict, con­cern about the treat­ment of in­dige­nous peo­ple and the fa­tigue that comes from the ‘‘ po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness that can char­ac­terise the im­mi­grant story’’ are also part of many sto­ries.

Joy­ful Strains

CUL­TURAL CON­TRAST: Michelle Aung Thin, Chris Flynn and Adib Khan are among 27 au­thors who tell their tales of set­tling in Aus­tralia in .

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