Arnold Zable: Violin Lessons

What crime?

José Borghino


Violin Lessons
by Arnold Zable
Text Publishing, $29.95 pb, 288 pp, 9781921758478


The reception of SBS’s documentary Go Back to Where You Came From held out the promise that Australians’ antagonism towards asylum seekers was softening. But old certainties shift in unpredictable ways. In an essay in the September 2010 issue of The Monthly, Robert Manne, a long-standing critic of the Howard government’s asylum seeker policy, asked some uncomfortable questions of the left: Didn’t Howard’s ‘Pacific Solution’ actually work? What if the Australians who are hostile to asylum seekers can’t be dismissed as a racist redneck minority, but are instead the ‘overwhelming majority of the Australian mainstream’? What, then, of the mythical Australian values of mateship, equality, and the fair go? Arnold Zable’s latest book, Violin Lessons, situates itself within this, the most disturbing moral debate Australia has engaged in since 1992, when the Keating government introduced mandatory immigration detention.

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José Borghino

José Borghino

José Borghino has managed government, media, and public relations for the Australian Publishers Association since 2005. He lectures in Literary Journalism at Sydney University, and is a regular book reviewer for The Australian, The Australian Literary Review, and the Sydney Morning Herald. He was the Editor of the online news and commentary site from 2005 to 2007. José Borghino was the Executive Director of the Australian Society of Authors from 1998 to 2004; and before that worked for the Literature Board of the Australia Council from 1990 to 1998. He was Chair of the Australian Coalition for Cultural Diversity from 2003 to 2004 and Chair of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Committee in 2000. He was the book reviews editor for marie claire magazine and the founding editor of both EDITIONS Review magazine and Education Australia magazine.

Published in September 2011 no. 334

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