Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Father's Day Recommendations

We think you should buy your dad a book this Father’s Day. Not just any old book – a Black Inc. book! Here are some excellent options:

The Founding of Melbourne and the Conquest of Australia
James Boyce

Winner of the 2012 Age Book of the Year.

1835 is a groundbreaking history of the founding of Melbourne. This is Australian non-fiction at its very best – the perfect gift for any father.

“Anyone who calls Melbourne home – in fact anyone who calls Australia home – should read this book.” – Peter Mares

Monday, August 27, 2012

Lily Chan on the story behind Toyo

Lily Chan reflects on how she came to write her first book Toyo, a memoir of her grandmother's extraordinary life.

My grandma has lived with us – the family of Chans – ever since I can remember. As is the tradition with Chinese/Japanese families, the mother often stays with the oldest son (woe begone is the daughter-in-law who marries into this age-old arrangement). My earliest memories often feature her, at some stage – dressing me up, walking me to school – a constant presence. She was a fantastic storyteller of her past. She would recreate an entire episode with this vivacious, natural style, completely absorbed and unselfconscious – as if it was happening right in front of her eyes, and we (her audience; usually the family) did not even exist.

I was fascinated by her. She did not seem to be the typical grandmother, the kindly, amiable, knitting, cake-baking ones with soft hands. She had soft hands, but they were ringed in jewels. She was an empress. She held royal court of her own. We were her subjects, spellbound by her next mood, her impulse or thought.

Benjamin Law on writing Gaysia: Part 3

Benjamin Law discusses the experience of writing his second book Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East. (Read Part 1 and Part 2 here.)

One of the hard things about writing a book like Gaysia is having to condense what I saw in seven countries – and what I learned over hundreds of interviews – into something that has some sort of narrative arc. At first though, I just sort of crammed everything in (I'm lazy), which probably wasn’t the best approach. When you overstuff something too forcefully, it kind of explodes.

When I handed the first draft of Gaysia to my poor publisher and editor Chris Feik, it was comically bloated and messy. From memory, it was over 100,000 words, which is roughly the size of a standard PhD thesis. I’ve never been a writer prone to “writer’s block”, but am pretty susceptible to what I like to call “writer’s diarrhoea”. What can I say? I go a little overboard.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Benjamin Law on writing Gaysia: Part 2

Benjamin Law discusses the experience of writing his second book Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East. (Read Part 1 here.)

Because I’m a bit of a moron, I originally envisioned that Gaysia would be this landmark book that would reveal What It Is Like To Be Queer in Asia. Then I guess I got sober and realised that task was impossible. When you think about it, there’s no such thing is a singular, definable queer experience in any country. What you can find though are specific human stories that illuminate bigger truths, which are the kinds of stories I wanted to sniff out for Gaysia.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Five reasons why your local bookshop is awesome

1. The staff! Good local bookshops are filled with helpful, book-loving staff. If you want a book recommendation for your eight-year-old niece or your eighty-year-old great aunt, they’ll be there to steer you in the right direction and provide useful, unbiased recommendations. Your local bookstore isn’t going to suggest a book based off algorithms or paid promotions – their feedback is based off a real, genuine understanding of readers and a love of books.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Benjamin Law on writing Gaysia: Part 1

Photo credit: Paul Harris
Benjamin Law discusses the experience of writing his second book Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East . Here, in the first of three parts, he reveals how he came up with the idea for the book.

In some ways, Gaysia started out as a joke. Because I’m a double-barrelled minority (gay; Asian), my friends have been calling me a Gaysian for a long time. It’s just easier. (“This is my friend Benjamin; he’s Gaysian.”)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Q&A with Hugh White, author of The China Choice

We interview Hugh White about his new book The China Choice: Why America Should Share Power.

Why do you believe America and China should share power?

Because sharing power between them is the best way - perhaps the only way – to keep Asia peaceful and stable. If America and China do not share power, and instead compete for primacy in Asia, that risks escalating into a new Cold War, or even open conflict. The consequences for everyone would be disastrous.

Interview with Paul Cleary, author of Mine-Field

We interview Paul Cleary about his new book Mine-Field: The Dark Side of Australia's Resources Rush.

What is Mine-Field about?

This book documents the rising power of the resurgent resources sector and the need for the government to play a more vigorous and independent role in protecting people and the public interest, especially prime farm land and water resources. Mine-Field is a book that gets down into the dirt and looks at the way the growing number of mega mining and gas projects operate on the ground. It reveals how governments have become deeply conflicted because they get a direct cut of the revenue, and how regulators often look the other way as companies pollute with impunity. While much of our environmental regulation is focused on flora and fauna, little regard is paid to protecting the people at the coalface. For governments today, the communities living in the shadow of the resources boom are expendable, and so are the land and water resources now being consumed at unprecedented rates by the resources juggernaut. The book outlines far-reaching reform needed to ensure that Australia avoids suffering irreversible damage from the mega mines now proliferating around the country.