Sojourners: The epic story of China’s centuries-old relationship with Australia
University of Queensland Press, $49.95 hb
Mr Rolls has written an extraordinarily detailed history of the Chinese in Australia, interspersed with much additional related and unrelated matter. It is indeed a labour of love, written over a period of some twenty years, and the author has uncovered a large amount of fascinating and amazing information not readily available elsewhere. Much of this new material relates to the vibrant popular culture the Chinese brought with them: their food, cricket fighting, cock fighting, and other sorts of fairly harmless gambling; their diseases, living conditions and relations with their non-Chinese neighbours. A certain amount of the book concerns immigration acts and other forms of discrimination, of course, but the stronger impression one gets is a more positive one: the Chinese as hard workers and major contributors to Australian life.