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 the Middle East, which, as she shows, has many fans. Her comprehensive research relieves me of any need or desire to join them.
Sheik, baby, sheik
The abiding romanticisation of the Orient
Desert Passions: Orientalism and Romance Novels
by Hsu-Ming Teo
University of Texas Press, $118.95 hb, 344 pp, 9780292739383
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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.
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