Asia

Emily Howie reviews 'The Seasons of Trouble' by Rohini Mohan

Emily Howie

In May 2009, Sri Lanka’s three-decade-long civil war came to an end with the government’s defeat of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (known as the Tamil Tigers). The long conflict had brought a range of horrific abuses: deliberate shelling of civilian areas; suicide bombing of civilian targets; enforced disappearances; rape; forced conscription, i ... More

Claudia Hyles reviews 'The Island of Singing Fish' by Tina Faulk

Claudia Hyles

Two government acts shaped Tina Faulk’s life: Ceylon’s 1956 Official Language Policy Act, known as the Sinhala Only Act, and Australia’s Immigration Restriction Act of 1901, better known as the White Australia policy. The first virtually disenfranchised not only Faulk’s Burgher community, but also Sinhalese and Tamil middle-class élites, whose primary langu ... More

Richard Broinowski reviews 'North Korea'

Richard Broinowski

North Korea always gets media attention for negative reasons: a border skirmish with its southern neighbour; a missile trial launch or nuclear test; vitriolic propaganda attacks on South Korea, Japan, or the United States; or the appalling findings of some human rights group like Michael Kirby’s recent UN Commission of Inquiry on North Korea’s human rights abuse ... More

Stephen Atkinson reviews 'Visiting the Neighbours'

Stephen Atkinson

It was timely that halfway through reading this book, I glanced up to see Clive Palmer on Q&A vowing to stand up to ‘the Chinese mongrels’. It was as if a columnist from the Bulletin circa 1895 had risen from the grave to thump a battered tub and warn us about the monster intent on destroying ‘our Australian way of life’. Imag ... More

Kerry Brown reviews 'Quarterly Essay 54: Dragon's Tale'

Kerry Brown

I dealt with China for most of the ten years I worked for the British Foreign Office from 1998. The one conclusion I drew from my experience over those years was that it didn’t take much to stumble into complexity. Britain and China have a vast historic hinterland. In 1839, British forces inflicted the first Opium War on China, and British politicians enforced the ... More

Darren Swanson reviews 'A War of Words'

Darren Swanson

Hamish McDonald has for more than thirty years written about foreign affairs and defence in Asia for publications such as the Sydney Morning Herald, Far Eastern Economic Review, and, more recently, as the world editor for the Saturday Paper. His writings on Indonesian politics and Australian complacency over the Balibo controversy have been more ... More

Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'Crazy Little Heaven'

Jay Daniel Thompson

Crazy Little Heaven provides an account of Mark Heyward’s life in Indonesia. The book offers readers an affectionate insight into this nation and its diverse culture. In 1992, Heyward travelled from Tasmania to East Kalimantan to work as a teacher. He was initially blinded by fantasies of Indonesia as the stomping ground ‘of Joseph Conr ... More

Mabel Lee on 'Lu Xun's Revolution'

Mabel Lee

This richly documented study of China’s pre-eminent writer Lu Xun (1881–1936) by Gloria Davies cannot fail to provoke deep reflection on the issue of the creative writer, artist, philosopher, or scholar and his or her involvement in politics. For Lu Xun, the issue was exacerbated by the brutal reality of China in the late 1920s and early 1930s, a ‘time o ... More

nick Horrdern on 'The Reporter and the Warlords'

Nicholas Hordern

Celebrity knows no borders, so the Australian visitor to Xi’an, capital of China’s north-western province of Shaanxi, shouldn’t be too surprised to come across images of compatriots like Hugh ‘Wolverine’ Jackman and Nicole ‘Face of Chanel’ Kidman adorning the city’s retail centre. But if they look around in Xi’an’s museums and historical di ... More

John Kinsella on 'Contemporary Asian Australian Poets'

John Kinsella

This is one of the more vital and significant poetry anthologies to appear in Australia. It has been compiled with a purpose as sophisticated and complex as the arguments for existence that it posits. It is an anthology not so much of ‘region’ (it is a rather massive one), as of the experience of being or having been from Asian heritages in contemporary Au ... More

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