Nicholas Jose was born in London, and grew up in Australia. He was educated at St Peter's College, Adelaide, and the Australian National University. Winning a Rhodes Scholarship in 1974, he completed a PhD on seventeenth century English literature at Oxford University. He taught for several years at the Australian National University before spending eighteen months teaching and writing in China. In 1987 he was appointed Cultural Counsellor at the Australian Embassy in Beijing, an appointment he held until 1990.
Jose's first book of fiction is the short story collection The Possession of Amber (1980). During the 1980s he published another collection and several novels, including the widely-admired Avenue of Eternal Peace (1989), the first of Jose's novels to exhibit his interest in Chinese language and culture. Since 1990, Jose has written more novels based on his experience and knowledge of China, and a novel, The Custodians (1996), that explores the concept of custodianship in Australia. He has also written reviews, short stories, essays, poetry and travel articles, many of which deal with aspects of Chinese art and culture. His novel The Red Thread (2000) interweaves his translation of the Chinese story Six Chapters of a Floating Life with a contemporary narrative by using a red ink for the former story. Jose's writing has been supported by fellowships from the Australia-China Council, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Australia Council.
Since 2005 he has been Chair of Creative Writing at the University of Adelaide and then Chair of Writing at the University of Western Sydney. Jose has been appointed to the Chair of Australian Studies at Harvard University for 2009.
'The title of Nicholas Jose’s new collection of stories refers to a form of Chinese painting that tricks the eye into thinking what it sees is a collage of fragments. Bapo literally means ‘eight broken’, where eight is a Chinese lucky number and ‘broken’ implies that luck has run out – though the term also suggests that there’s another kind of luck, in simply surviving, and being able to hold the pieces of one’s life together in some sort of order.
'Jose’s stories feature a cast of characters affected by time or chance in different ways, artists, diplomats, entrepreneurs, immigrants, families at the crossroads. Many explore Australia’s relationship to China or have echoes of China in them; others dwell on the qualities of memory, resilience, play and adventure – qualities which are implicit in the form of bapo, and characteristic of Jose’s writing as a whole. (Publication summary)
'Some of the best, most significant writing produced in Australia over more than two centuries is gathered in this landmark anthology. Covering all genres - from fiction, poetry and drama to diaries, letters, essays and speeches - the anthology maps the development of one of the great literatures in English in all its energy and variety.
'The writing reflects the diverse experiences of Australians in their encounter with their extraordinary environment and with themselves. This is literature of struggle, conflict and creative survival. It is literature of lives lived at the extremes, of frontiers between cultures, of new dimensions of experience, where imagination expands.
'This rich, informative and entertaining collection charts the formation of an Australian voice that draws inventively on Indigenous words, migrant speech and slang, with a cheeky, subversive humour always to the fore. For the first time, Aboriginal writings are interleaved with other English-language writings throughout - from Bennelong's 1796 letter to the contemporary flowering of Indigenous fiction and poetry - setting up an exchange that reveals Australian history in stark new ways.
'From vivid settler accounts to haunting gothic tales, from raw protest to feisty urban satire and playful literary experiment, from passionate love poetry to moving memoir, the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature reflects the creative eloquence of a society.
'Chosen by a team of expert editors, who have provided illuminating essays about their selections, and with more than 500 works from over 300 authors, it is an authoritative survey and a rich world of reading to be enjoyed.' (Publisher's blurb)
Allen and Unwin have a YouTube channel with a number of useful videos on the Anthology.
'An authoritative survey of Australian Aboriginal writing over two centuries, across a wide range of fiction and non-fiction genres. Including some of the most distinctive writing produced in Australia, it offers rich insights into Aboriginal culture and experience...
'The anthology includes journalism, petitions and political letters from both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as major works that reflect the blossoming of Aboriginal poetry, prose and drama from the mid-twentieth century onwards. Literature has been used as a powerful political tool by Aboriginal people in a political system which renders them largely voiceless. These works chronicle the ongoing suffering of dispossession, but also the resilience of Aboriginal people across the country, and the hope and joy in their lives.' (Publisher's blurb)