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Alison Broinowski

Alison Broinowski

Alison Broinowski has lived, worked, and frequently travelled in Japan. She was Australia’s cultural attaché in Tokyo in the mid-1980s and has recently contributed a chapter, with Rachel Miller, on the history of the Australian Embassy, to a book on Australia–Japan relations edited at Deakin University. She is President of Australians for War Powers Reform.

Alison Broinowski reviews 'The Violent American Century: War and Terror since World War II' by John W. Dower

August 2017, no. 393 26 July 2017
A week after the Manchester Arena bombing, it emerged in the British media that MI5 had been warned about some of the terrorists but had apparently done nothing. M16, moreover, had reportedly encouraged British Libyans to join the 2011 civil war against Gaddafi. Their relatives, including the Manchester bomber, later went back and forth unimpeded between the United Kingdom and Libya. Yet this scan ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Subtle Moments: Scenes on a life’s journey' by Bruce Grant

April 2017, no. 390 28 March 2017
Opposite a handsome portrait of him by Louis Kahan, Bruce Grant introduces his memoir of a ‘life’s journey’ by proposing that it is also a biography of Australia, and promising to revisit that on the last page. There, he summarises the plots of ‘Love in the Asian Century’, his recent trilogy of e-books, in which affairs between older men and younger women, Australian and Asian, start wit ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'The Wild Goose' by Mori Õgai, translated by Meredith McKinney

December 2014, no. 367 01 December 2014
Elegantly evoking Japan with cream paper and ink-painted foliage on the cover and inside pages, this slim paperback from the small Braidwood publisher Finlay Lloyd is headed by the single, bold character for ‘wild goose’ (karikarigane). The events recounted in Mori Õgai’s novella occur in Tokyo in the late nineteenth century, in the area north of Kanda around Ueno’s Shinobazu pond, near t ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage' by Haruki Murakami

October 2014, no. 365 01 October 2014
A recent exhibition at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art included two videos of scenes from modern Japanese life that at first seemed ordinary, even banal. In one, the artist Tabaimo (Ayako Tabata) animates the interior of a train, with views of passing suburbs; in the other, she shows a mansion from a bygone century, opening like a doll’s house to display its plush furnishings. But then thi ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'The Yellow Papers' by Dominique Wilson

August 2014, no. 363 01 August 2014
The three parts of Dominique Wilson’s story are linked together by racial prejudice, of Australians towards Asians, and of Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese towards Westerners. She picks up this well-worn thread in pre-Federation Australia and weaves it in and out of the narrative, tying it off when China is in the throes of the Cultural Revolution. During the twentieth century, her three men – t ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Dangerous Allies' by Malcolm Fraser, with Cain Roberts

June–July 2014, no. 362 27 May 2014
Coinciding with the World War I anniversaries, Malcolm Fraser’s book will polarise Australian opinion on a fundamental issue. It has never been raised in this way, for Australian leaders have not discussed decisions to go to war in public, nor sought popular approval of Australia’s alliances. Yet successive generations of young Australians have fought in British and American wars to support ou ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'The Storyteller and His Three Daughters' by Lian Hearn and 'Henry Black: On stage in Meiji Japan' by Ian McArthur

November 2013, no. 356 31 October 2013
For centuries, Japan has magnetised the West’s imagination, evoking both fear and fascination. In the late nineteenth century, when most writers and readers in Europe, North America, and Australia had yet to see this ‘young’, newly accessible country for themselves, literary fantasies on the Madam Butterfly theme became a craze. Then, after Japan invaded its neighbours and defeated the Russi ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Lighting' by Felicity Volk

July–August 2013, no. 353 27 June 2013
Few first novelists are as assured and articulate as Felicity Volk. She has designed an elemental structure for her story: wind, fire, earth, and water each have a section. Her time frame goes centuries deep, naming ancestors who, in the style of Genesis, begat and begat seven generations, until they reach Persia, an Australian with Arab, European, and British heritage. A thirty-something patholog ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Desert Passions: Orientalism and Romance Novels' by Hsu-Ming Teo

May 2013, no. 351 28 April 2013
I once fell out with an intelligent, well-read woman who refused to believe me when I said I had never read a Mills & Boon book. I should perhaps have admitted that the job I had as a student, proofreading stacks of popular novels for an Adelaide publisher, put me off them for life. Now I am grateful to Hsu-Ming Teo for educating me so thoroughly on romantic fiction by women in English about t ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'The Untold History of the United States' by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick

April 2013, no. 350 25 March 2013
It is ten years since the invasion of Iraq by the United States and the few countries willing to join it. Happening to be in Washington in February, and recalling worldwide protests in 2003, I was struck by what seems to be American amnesia about the war and its consequences. At least in Australia groups are exploring ways to prevent such catastrophic expeditions in the future. Even as Afghanistan ... (read more)
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