Unit Suitable For
AC: Year 11 (English Unit 2)
belonging, connection to place, death, displacement, freedom, hardship, identity, loss, love, memory, powerlessness, rebellion, relationships, resilience, Separation, war
Ethical understanding, Intercultural understanding, Literacy
'In Acland Street, St Kilda, there is a small blue plaque beside the entrance to a clothing store, where once there stood a cafe called Scheherazade. I walk past it almost every day, this minor curiosity on an ever-changing thoroughfare. The plaque is easy to miss, and few people stop to read its inscription. But for those of us who remember the Babel-like din inside and schnitzels the size of a plate, that name – Scheherazade – and the names Avram and Masha Zeleznikow draw us back to a tiny pocket of old Europe – lost Europe – stitched into a seaside suburb in Melbourne at the farthest corner of the earth.' (Introduction)
'Nadine Fresco in her research on exiled Holocaust survivors uses the term diaspora des cendres (1981) to depict the status of Jewish migrants whose lives are forever marked by their tragic experience as well as a conviction that “the[ir] place of origins has gone up in ashes” (Hirsch 243). As a result, Jewish migrants and their children have frequently resorted to storytelling treated as a means of transferring their memories, postmemories and their condition of exile from the destroyed Eastern Europe into the New World. Since “[l]iterature of Australians of Polish-Jewish descent holds a special place in Australian culture” (Kwapisz Williams 125), the aim of this paper is to look at selected texts by one of the greatest Jewish-Australian storytellers of our time: Arnold Zable and analyse them according to the paradigm of an exiled flâneur whose life concentrates on wandering the world, sitting in a Melbourne café, invoking afterimages of the lost homeland as well as positioning one’s status on a map of contemporary Jewish migrants. The analyses of Zable’s Jewels and Ashes (1991) and Cafe Scheherazade (2001) would locate Zable as a memoirist as well as his fictional characters within the Australian community of migrants who are immersed in discussing their un/belonging and up/rootedness. The analysis also comprises discussions on mapping the past within the context of the new territory and the value of storytelling.' (Publication abstract)
'As a writer, a reader and a migrant, I am interested in the gaps in migration narratives and in where the stories touch other stories. These features suggest the difficulty of capturing the enormity of the migrational shift in one narrative and offer a sense of the nuances contained within a single person's experiences of migration. In this article I explore some ways in which individual migration stories have similar fragmented structures and make dynamic connections to wider stories, using examples from my own and other Australian fiction.'
In addition to her own work, Sibyl's Cave, Padmore refers to Eva Sallis's Hiam (1998), Arnold Zable's Cafe Scheherazade (2001), Peter Lyssiotis and Nick Petroulias's 'New Troy' (2000) and Rosa Cappiello's Oh, Lucky Country [Paese Fortunato] (1984). 'Some of these works have fragmented structures and all contain intertextual links to other stories. The embedded stories in these texts are often not Australian in origin but have travelled to Australia from elsewhere, reflecting the migrational history that shapes one aspect of contemporary Australian identity.'