Growing Up Asian in Australia

Front Cover
Alice Pung
Black Inc., Jun 1, 2008 - Literary Collections - 368 pages
4 Reviews
Asian-Australians have often been written about by outsiders, as outsiders. In this collection, compiled by award-winning author Alice Pung, they tell their own stories with verve, courage and a large dose of humour. These are not predictable tales of food, festivals and traditional dress. The food is here in all its steaming glory - but listen more closely to the dinner-table chatter and you might be surprised by what you hear.

Here are tales of leaving home, falling in love, coming out and finding one's feet. A young Cindy Pan vows to win every single category of Nobel Prize. Tony Ayres blows a kiss to a skinhead and lives to tell the tale. Benjamin Law has a close encounter with some angry Australian fauna, and Kylie Kwong makes a moving pilgrimage to her great-grandfather's Chinese village.

Here are well-known authors and exciting new voices, spanning several generations and drawn from all over Australia. In sharing their stories, they show us what it is really like to grow up Asian, and Australian.

Contributors include: Shaun Tan, Jason Yat-Sen Li, John So, Annette Shun Wah, Quan Yeomans, Jenny Kee, Anh Do, Khoa Do, Caroline Tran and many more.

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User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Ignore the negative comment written below by someone else. I am an Asian Australian (and +bisexual) who chose to study this anthology as a related text for the AOS belonging many years ago and I really enjoyed reading through these texts.
Naturally some stories are not for everyone due to content discussed, however I object to the claim that this anthology was poorly put together and offensive. Remember that cultural context MUST be considered and this whole anthology is based around the unique identity of being Asian and Australian. Bisexuality isn't even believed to be a thing by my parents, and considered depraved. Exploring one's sexuality, such as Jenny Kee's entry which is probably one of the "immoral" stories mentioned by the other commentator, is shocking, especially for an Asian girl because (as you can see in Asian idol culture), women are expected to be extremely chaste. (Things are changing but parents' POVs are still quite traditional in that sense.) I personally believe that all of these texts in the anthology have the ability to be empowering, encourage conversation, and give voice to an often silenced and marginalised group.
The texts are also fairly simple to read. The one issue I have is that it's this very simplicity in style that may put people off.
All in all, I think this anthology definitely is worth reading, especially if you have an interest in these kind of topics. You don't have to read the full anthology at once, either. It's very dip-in-and-out and over time you may come to appreciate certain parts more.

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

We were made to read this in school in 12th Grade, and while some of the stories are sincere, many contain very adult themes, and offensive content. As an LGBTGQ rights supporter, some of the stories were very offensive. The book is poorly put together, and most of problems the characters express have nothing to do with them being asian, but merely them being messed up people in the first place. If there was ever a top ten list of books for burning, this deserves a high place on that list. This book is deplorable. 


The Folks
The Clan
The Hots
Tall Poppies
Leaving Home

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About the author (2008)

Alice Pung is the author of Unpolished Gem and Her Father’s Daughter and the editor of the anthology Growing Up Asian in Australia. Alice’s work has appeared in the Monthly, Good Weekend, the Age, The Best Australian Stories and Meanjin.

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