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 with enthusiasm, but are doomed to fail. The metaphor for the relationship between Australia and Asia is overt.
Stories about Australians abroad on what Grant calls a ‘crusade,’ clashing with Asian cultures and identities, and having affairs that end unhappily, are themes that prevailed when he began writing his novel Cherry Bloom (1980). The eponymous young Australian wife of a stuffy British diplomat in Singapore wants ‘desperately to connect’. Knowing no Asian language or history, she finds an American lover and learns about life and ‘ancient Chinese wisdom’, but eventually leaves for home.