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Alison Broinowski

Alison Broinowski

Alison Broinowski is a former Australian diplomat, academic and author of The Yellow Lady – Australian Impressions of Asia (1991).

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Us and Them: A journalist’s investigation of media, Muslims and the Middle East' by Peter Manning

December 2006–January 2007, no. 287 01 December 2006
The timing of Peter Manning’s book, in which he seeks more Australian empathy with Muslims, was exquisite. The mufti of Australia in September urged the opposite, telling his flock that Jews and Christians were ‘the most evil of God’s creation on the face of the earth’. He also had colourful things to say about women being responsible if men turn to crime, or commit rape or adultery. Of co ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Bad Days in Basra: My turbulent times as Britain's man in southern Iraq' by Hilary Synnott

October 2008, no. 305 01 October 2008
In the beginning, says a much-repeated joke, was The Plan. Deemed excellent, at first, it passed through many reinterpretations at successive levels of bureaucracy, and ended up being derided as a crock of shit. Britain’s plan for reconstructing Iraq in 2003 might have met the same fate, only there wasn’t one. Don’t laugh: Australia had no plan either, excellent or crock. The United States ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Roma the First: A biography of Dame Roma Mitchell' by Susan Magarey and Kerry Round

April 2008, no. 300 01 April 2008
Roma Mitchell came first in nearly everything. Not only at school and university, but in becoming Australia’s first female OC, Supreme Court judge, Boyer Lecturer, university chancellor and state gover­nor. But she had no inside track to success. Her father was killed in World War I, her mother survived on his pension and the generosity of friends, and Roma and her older sister were taught b ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews ‘Figurehead’ by Patrick Allington

October 2009, no. 315 01 October 2009
What we might call ‘ordinary Australians’ produced a stream of novels about Asian countries in the 1970s and 1980s, but this is now a mere trickle. Some of the flow may have been dammed by the effect of market forces on publishers; some of it may have been diverted to Middle Eastern channels; some may have drained into the pools of Asia-enthusiasm that stagnated during the Howard years; and so ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews ‘A Most Immoral Woman’ by Linda Jaivin

April 2009, no. 310 01 April 2009
Rarely does an image on a novel’s cover appear exactly as you, the reader, imagine the character to look. But Mae Ruth Perkins, on the elegant scarlet cover of Linda Jaivin’s new novel, definitely does. Bordello eyes, boudoir lips and all: the face in an early 1900s photograph is Mae’s own. The jewellery, faintly visible, is hers too, just as Jaivin describes it: ‘He helped her tie a black ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Between Stations' by Kim Cheng Boey

November 2009, no. 316 01 November 2009
The migration process makes you adept, Kim Cheng Boey remarks, in coded language. The first poem he wrote after settling in Sydney recalls an exhibition in the Queen Victoria Building about the Chinese tea entrepreneur Mei Quong Tart, whose clan name is the same as the Boey family’s. His daughter, pointing with her small finger, decodes the character mei, meaning ‘nothing’, a negative prefix ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'The Monkey and the Dragon' by Linda Jaivin

November 2001, no. 236 01 November 2001
How seriously do we take an author who, in her mid-forties, writes about ‘street cred’, calls a department store ‘humungous’ and, discussing Deng Xiaoping’s reforms, asks: ‘Bourgeois decadence? Hel-lo.’? Linda Jaivin studied one of the world’s most difficult languages in Taiwan, Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China, and, as a scholar and journalist, published perceptive a ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'The Consul' by Ian Kemish

November 2022, no. 448 25 October 2022
When Australians working in diplomatic posts share anecdotes, the best usually come from the consuls. They recount travellers’ tales of love and loss, dissipation and disaster, adventure and misadventure from Australians perpetually on the move – at least until the pandemic. It’s the consuls’ job to help those who are injured, robbed, kidnapped, arrested, or otherwise distressed abroad. T ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Dreaming of East: Western women and the exotic allure of the Orient' by Barbara Hodgson and 'Women of the Gobi: Journeys on the Silk Road' by Kate James

June 2007, no. 292 09 September 2022
Jane Austen’s latest biographer, Jon Spence, observes that by deciding to support herself by writing rather than live on a husband’s income, Austen was spared the likelihood of annual pregnancies, exhaustion, infection and early death, fates that confronted many married women of her day. Another means of avoidance was travel abroad. That was not the only motive, of course, of the many European ... (read more)

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Good International Citizenship: The case for decency' by Gareth Evans

September 2022, no. 446 25 August 2022
Over the course of a long and distinguished public life, Gareth Evans has held fast to his conviction that as individuals aspire to personal decency and moral behaviour, the same should be replicated among nations. As a foreign minister and an author, and in his international organisations and academic roles, Evans has consistently advocated ‘good international citizenship’. Care for our commo ... (read more)
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