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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 'Shanghai Dancing' by Brian Castro

May 2003, no. 251 01 May 2003
If we lived in the kind of country – and there are some – where people not only chose their presidents but chose as leaders poets, philosophers and novelists, a new novel by Brian Castro would be a sensation, even a political event. Students would be hawking pirated copies, queues would form outside bookshops, long debates would steam up the coffee shops, and the magazines would be full of it. ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Kofi Annan: A man of peace in a world of war' by Stanley Meisler

April 2007, no. 290 01 April 2007
The United Nations’ eighth secretary-general, Ban Ki-Moon, has just taken over what has been called the world’s worst job. But it is one that attracts fierce, devious and polite competition. Why would anyone seek, for less than $400,000 a year, to be the chief administrative officer of a non-government that cannot govern, a non-corporation that cannot borrow or invest? The UN’s total budget ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'The Genius of Donald Friend: Drawings from the diaries 1942–1989' by Lou Klepac

April 2001, no. 229 14 December 2020
Here we have the first intimations of the coming flowering of the Donald Friend diaries, which are to be published by the National Library with support from Morris West’s benefaction. Friendliness was not always the same as ugliness or cleanliness when he was alive. So, it is somehow comforting that two Australian artists, so different from each other in lifestyle, should after their deaths find ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'The Sweet and Simple Kind: A novel Of Sri Lanka' by Yasmine Gooneratne

June 2009, no. 312 01 June 2009
The Gooneratnes’ mountain bungalow, overlooking rippling tea plantations, is called Pemberley, after Mr Darcy’s mansion. A wall plaque commemorates Elizabeth Bennet’s description of it. In the style of a modern Jane Austen, Yasmine Gooneratne takes up the enduring and universal question of who will marry whom, as Vikram Seth did in his mega-novel A Suitable Boy (1994), and at similarly enter ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Detritus' by Robyn Archer

September 2010, no. 324 01 September 2010
A sarcastic little slogan on a wall in Australia’s arts funding organisation in the mid-1990s read ‘Il y a trop d’art’. All right, it was meant in jest, but it seemed to hint broadly at shared bureaucratic resentment of importunate artists, even though they were the Council’s clients and the reason, indeed, for its very existence. Remember the national health hospital in Yes Minister tha ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Power Shift: Australia’s Future between Washington and Beijing' (Quarterly Essay 39) by Hugh White

October 2010, no. 325 01 October 2010
The Japanese people should admonish each other every morning before breakfast not to let their guard down in foreign relations, and only afterwards proceed to eat. Fukuzawa Yukichi, An Outline of a Theory of Civilization Not for forty years have Australians had real arguments with their governments about international relations. Many marched in 2003 against the Iraq invasion, but were ignore ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Amnesty' by Aravind Adiga

April 2020, no. 420 20 March 2020
Much political mileage has been made in Australia from the turning back of ‘boat people’. Travel by boat is the cheapest means of getting to this island continent, and the most dangerous. Boat travellers are the poorest and the most likely to be caught and deported or sent to an offshore camp. But their number is less than half of those who arrive by air as tourists and apply for refugee prote ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Project RAINFALL: The Secret History of Pine Gap' by Tom Gilling

October 2019, no. 415 25 September 2019
Since the 1960s, US military bases have continuously occupied Australian territory, with the permission of successive governments. Of the original sites, the missile-launch tracker Nurrungar is closed and North West Cape no longer communicates with US nuclear submarines, but it has since gained space surveillance and military signals intelligence functions. Pine Gap listens to signals transmission ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Typhoon Kingdom' by Matthew Hooton

June–July 2019, no. 412 23 May 2019
In the May 2019 issue of Quadrant, its literary editor, Barry Spurr, inveighed against the ‘inane expansion of creative writing courses’. Professor Spurr’s scholarly accomplishments in the study of poetry and Australian fiction do not include creative writing. (His resignation from the University of Sydney was accepted in December 2014.) While many Australian authors have spectacularly succe ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Japan Story: In Search of a Nation, 1850 to the present' by Christopher Harding

April 2019, no. 410 25 March 2019
Our tutor in Japanese conversation at the Australian National University in 1968, rather than listen to us mangling his language, used to write the kanji for all the political factions on the board, with a Ramen-like chart of connections looping between them and multiple interest groups. Within each one were mainstream and anti-mainstream factions, he told us, whose seething contestation with one ... (read more)
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