Growing Up Asian in Australia

Alice Pung

Growing Up Asian in Australia
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Growing Up Asian in Australia

Alice Pung

Asian-Australians are known to each other and the outside world by many labels: Quiet Achiever. FOB. Gangster Chigger. Mainlander. Banana. But are these labels based on some degree of truth, or only fiction? What is it like to grow up Asian in Australia? Unpredictable, honest, reflective and irreverent, this collection throws out the cliches and takes us behind the stereotypes. A young man tentatively steps towards manhood with Mariah Carey blasting in his ears, while two primary-school misfits stage a playground revolt. A white Australian woman describes mothering her adopted Asian son, and a teenage boy learns all about philandering from his visiting uncles. Here are respected public figures as well as exciting new voices, drawn from all walks of life and spanning several generations. With insight, courage and a large dose of humour, they shed new light on what it is like to grow up Asian, and Australian.

Review

What a fascinating collection of stories! Growing up Asian in Australia is an anthology of reminiscences from prominent and not so prominent Asian-Australians who all have one thing in common - lives that have been affected, in one way or another, by the straddling of East and West.

Edited by award-winning writer Alice Pung, these are tales of being called racist names in the schoolyard, unpacking school lunches that smelled different from the other kids’, negotiating romantic relationships with people from other cultures and much, much more. Sunil Badami recalls being taunted about his name and wanting to be just Neil, Kylie Kwong writes about the first time she visited her ancestral home in China and Cindy Pan remembers her aspirations to win every single category of the Nobel Prize. Honest, unflinching and often extremely funny, these stories give voice to the many Asian-Australians that grew up here but often felt like they didn’t belong. My only criticism of this anthology would be that Alice Pung hasn’t put one of her own stories in!

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