'Jews have been in Australia since the First Fleet. They have come from many lands; some in relative comfort, others in utter destitution. Their stories of survival, arrival, adaptation and participation constitute one of multicultural Australia's great ethnic narratives. Australian Jews have written about three hundred book-length autobiographies. Richard Freadman's remarkable This Crazy Thing a Life: Australian Jewish Autobiography is the first ever comprehensive study of this large, varied and fascinating body of work.
The autobiographies range from humble self-published monographs to acclaimed narratives by professional writers like Lily Brett, Jacob Rosenberg and Arnold Zable. Freadman offers superbly nuanced readings of major works. He also surveys the field as a whole, tracing demographic trends, recurrent themes, the impact of the Holocaust, and issues of gender, genre, testimony, truth-telling and literary value. There are accessible discussions of humanist and postmodern approaches to Holocaust memoir, migrant narrative and ethnic minority writing, together with background information about Judaism and the Australian Jewish diaspora. The final section of the book is an anthology of short excerpts featuring both renowned and lesser-known writers.
Written for a general audience, this rich and impassioned book makes an important contribution to our understanding of Australian Jewish lives, and of Australian lives more generally.' -- Cover blurb.