Columbia University Press

‘We are drawn to this China, even though we still do not know China,’ wrote Soviet avant-garde writer and theorist Sergei Tretyakov in 1925. ‘But we must get to know China, we must get to know it well, and we must get to know it quickly.’ Tretyakov’s call was underpinned by a real sense of political urgency: the failure of socialist revolutions across Europe had prompted a Soviet pivot toward Asia, and China had emerged as a potential partner for fostering ‘an international community of enemies of capital’. Yet despite being geographically adjacent, Russia and China had long perceived each other as unfamiliar and distant. In an effort to bridge this divide, a comprehensive cultural campaign was devised to draw China closer to the Soviet public.

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The Membranes: A novel by Chi Ta-wei, translated by Ari Larissa Heinrich

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April 2022, no. 441

It is 2100, and the states of the world have divvied up the ocean floor, constructing domed cities in which humanity, such as it is, survives. The earth’s irradiated, unliveable surface is the haunt of adventure tourists and archaeologists, the battleground of military androids watched on screens by the humans at the bottom of the sea.

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Not many peoples are able to read poems in their language written one thousand years ago, as Persian speakers in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan do today with Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, meaning the ‘Book of Kings’. The Shahnameh is Iran’s national epic, a vast compilation of pre-Islamic Iranian myths, legends, and imperial history ...

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We are all exiles. In time, if not in space, we are inevitably parted from what is most familiar and dear to us. ‘Loss’ is stamped in all our passports. Vladimir Nabokov understood exile better than anyone. Heir to a wealthy landowning family in Imperial Russia, he escaped the communist revolution of 1917 to a life of genteel poverty in a Berlin boarding house. Eking out a living as a tennis and language tutor, he built a reputation by the 1930s as one of the best Russian writers alive. With his Jewish wife, Vera, Nabokov fled from Germany to France, and then to the United States. His father, a prominent liberal, was shot by a right-wing assassin in 1922. His gay brother, Sergey, was murdered in a concentration camp in 1945.

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In my recent commentary on The Garnaut Review 2011, I said ‘Climate change is often framed as a number of battles; between science and opinion, between sustainable development and economic growth, between government control and individual freedom ...’ (ABR, November 2011). Little did I know that my next review would be of a book about the Climate Wars, written by an active warrior in those battles, and subtitled Dispatches from the Front Lines.

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Frontier Justice by Andy Lamey & Contesting Citizenship by Anne McNevin

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April 2012, no. 340

Australian advocates of a harsh line against asylum seekers arriving by boat often base their arguments on a concern for the protection of human life. Unless we deter boat people, so the reasoning goes, ever greater numbers will set out on the dangerous voyage from Indonesia, and more and more lives will be lost at sea. This may sound like a novel position, but, as Andy Lamey makes clear in Frontier Justice: The Global Refugee Crisis and What to Do about It, the argument is well worn. In the early 1990s, Presidents Bush Sr and Clinton used similar justifications to defend a policy of intercepting boats from Haiti and returning them directly to Port au Prince, without making any assessment as to whether those on board might have claims to protection from Haiti’s dictatorial régime.

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