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In her Afterword to Antonella Riem’s magisterial A Gesture of Reconciliation, Riane Eisler – whose ideas provide much of the theoretical framework for Riem’s analyses – calls the book “a paean to the power of the creative word as a path to understanding and transformation” (212). In literary criticism we are used to seeing testaments to “the power of the creative word” (though perhaps less so now than in the past), and there is always the assumption, if not the outright declaration, that this leads to increased understanding. Knowledge and understanding, after all, are the coins of our particular realm. But except for manifestly polemical works, we don’t usually regard criticism as a path to transformation. And yet that is exactly what motivates Riem’s work, and has for over twenty years now, since she founded the Partnership Studies Group in Udine in 1998. As she says in her Introduction, “poetry, narration, music, and all other forms of art have a relevant role, because they influence our world-view and therefore our present and our future, and can even reconfigure our past beliefs and transform our lives” (12). Moreover, “if we consciously choose to focus our attention on peace, beauty, love, harmony, and art, this is what we creatively activate in our lives” (12). Literature, therefore, can help remake our world by changing us.' (Introduction)
'Roanna Gonsalves is an Indian Australian writer based in Sydney, author of the highly-praised short fiction collection The Permanent Resident (2016) – also recently published the title Sunita De Souza Goes to Sydney: And Other Stories (2018), in which she masterfully fills the contemporary Australian literary landscape with the hardly noticed experiences of Indian immigrant women living in Australia. Gonsalves was born in Mumbai and moved to Sydney in 1998. She has been the recipient of various awards concerning both her academic and writing career: the 2018 NSW Premier’s Literary Award Multicultural Prize, the 2017 Australia Council Literature Board Grant, the 2013 Australian Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Endeavour Postgraduate (Outgoing) Award, and the 2011 Australian Writers Guild Award (with colleagues), Best Script, Community and Youth Theatre. She is co-founder and co-editor of Southern Crossings. Her publications in the prestigious journals and magazines Peril, Meanjin, Southerly, Overland, and The Conversation, together with her participation in multiple writers’ festivals, conferences and teaching of several creative writing workshops in Australian universities and schools, clearly demonstrate Gonsalves’ versatility and social commitment. The Permanent Resident, her first published fiction book, positions Gonsalves as a sophisticated story-teller with a special gift to transmit stories of tremendous violence, pain and love through a witty use of the language. In this interview, which took place via an exchange of emails at the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018, Gonsalves discusses The Permanent Resident in relation to literature, immigration in Australia, class, gender, religion and whiteness.'