'In the lead essay UNEARTHED: Last Days of The Anthropocene, James Bradley writes compellingly on the urgent crisis of climate change. 'There is a conversation I do not know how to have, a conversation about what happens if we are headed for disaster. It is not a theoretical question for me. I have two daughters.'
'Miles Franklin shortlisted author Michael Mohammed Ahmad writes on how his thinking about literature, politics and race was shaped in Reading Malcolm X in Arab-Australia. In an accidental companion piece, This Vast Conspiracy of Memory, Khalid Warsame reflects on life and writing while making a complete reading of the works of James Baldwin.
'Among this edition's other authors are Glyn Davis, Karen Wyld, Fatima Measham, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Maria Takolander and Meg Mundell.' (Edition introduction)
'Is this not also the national founding story? Land being made to accommodate those whom society had failed—at least 165,000 British convicts on 806 boats in 80 years. Some were sent to Tasmania as placeholders for free settlement; pristine forests and wetlands making way for brutal prisons and slave industries.'(Introduction)
'Everything I'm about to tell you is the truth. Or at least a version of very real lies I have told myself. All I remember is the rain. It's grey. I'm hunched over in my car, illuminated by my iPhone screen, furiously googling. It's only 4 pm but it feels like nighttime. Melbourne winters can do that.' (Publication abstract)
'If you drive down what was once ‘the old coast road’ that winds through the unravelling neo-suburbia of Cockburn, shadowed by McMansions and signs offering community and garage space, then on past the hold-outs of Hamilton Hill’s light-industrial district, and you glide to a stop at the traffic lights beside the old car wash that signals the entry point to South Fremantle, you’d have driven a rough reversal of the route C.Y. O’Connor took on 10 March 1902 when he rode his horse into the Indian Ocean and committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.' (Publication abstract)
'Our lives are made up of different arcs—love, family, politics, geography, time and dislocation among them. One of the arcs that has exercised me most is my wondering about post-colonising Australia and its myths and mythmaking propensities, also about my family’s.
'Although my childhood was spent mostly in Melbourne, it was punctuated by our frequent pilgrimages to the promised land (aka South Australia) and inflected by the awareness that Melbourne was exile to my South Australian mother—feelings I do not share. She often reminded us of our ‘free settler’ heritage, and of our roots in the colonial era, no more than a blink of time ago in the face of 50,000 or more years of Aboriginal occupation; my horror has only grown with the intervening years.
'We loved South Australia for our own reasons: for heat, our peerless great-grandmother, wild freedom and the beach. But an awareness of myth, of the stories we tell and the ways we frame present and past, was kindled. If there is an arc in this selection, it is that the postcolonial Australia that I first began to think about as a child—if only at the edges of my mind—is a myth. It always has been.' (Introduction)
'For me, inspiration is everywhere, including in the ordinary. I don't have a muse. I'm not sure if I quite believe they exist. The drive to write, for me, is not a mysterious existential urge. Inspiration is literally everywhere. It was in my preschool playground in suburban Sydney; in my parents' migration to Australia in 1976; in the 2011 Tottenham riots, which spread like wildfire through the working-class suburbs of England; in the liner notes on the back of the records in my father's collection; in a Test match played 60 years ago by the West Indian cricket team; in love; in laughter; in hatred; in art; in the writers who and the words that came before me; in the work of Alice Walker, Nikki Giovanni, J. California Cooper and Maya Angelou; in the song lyrics of the Priscilla, Queen of the Desert movie soundtrack, circa 1994.' (Publication abstract)
'Last summer started early in Australia. In November a heatwave struck northern Queensland, pushing temperatures to record heights in many places. In Cairns the temperature reached 42.6 degrees, more than five degrees higher than the previous record for November. Over 12 days fire crews attended more than 1200 fires, including devastating blazes in rainforest areas that had always been regarded as natural firebreaks. In parts of Queensland, fire conditions were designated catastrophic, the first time the rating - which was only created in 2009 - had been used in the state.' (Publication abstract)
'Sand nigger. I was 15 years old the first time I heard this racial slur. An Aussie with long brown hair and pasty white skin, who was drunk, screamed at me from across the road while I was walking to the local manoush shop for breakfast. It was December 2001 and I was studying at Punchbowl Boys High School-a scrawny second-gen Leb growing up in the ethnoslums of Sydney. Three months earlier, two airplanes hijacked by Muslim terrorists had crashed into the World Trade Centre. Twelve months earlier, Australian news media had been dominated by reports of 'Lebanese-Muslim' gang rapists plaguing Sydney's streets. And three years earlier, I had seen the first reports in Australian newspapers and on TV news networks about local 'Middle Eastern' and 'Muslim' thugs involved in drugs, murders, theft and drive-by shootings. However, despite what the news headlines were saying about people like me at the time, I wasn't interested in terrorism, sexual assault and organised crime. I was interested in reading. I spent my evenings and weekends consuming the great works of Faulkner, Dostoyevsky, Nabokov, Hemingway, Joyce, Flaubert, Shakespeare, Austen, Charlotte Bronte and Mary Shelley. My teachers assured me that I would find myself within the pages.' (Publication abstract)