Where the Sea Takes Us is the story of my family and therefore of me. It tells of my parents’ lives during and after the Indochinese Wars. The book not only kicked off my academic career, but also helped me to figure out where I came from and who I want to be. My only regret about the book is the title which suggests that my parents were forever victims of circumstance and forces that were beyond their control. This was almost never the case. Where the Sea Takes US was short-listed for the Australian Society of Author’s prize and ACT book of the year. All proceeds go to Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders who saved my brother and I from certain death.
This is my and ANU Press’ debut work of fiction, although I either did or witnessed almost everything that is in these stories during my incredible year in Hanoi. Vietnam as if… is available for free download from ANU Press (click on the image) and there’s a postscript that explains what it’s and I’m all about. The book is currently being translated into Vietnamese. I will be talking about the book at the Asia Bookroom on 12 October. For details of the event click here. Here’s the blurb.
Vietnam as if… follows five young people who have moved from the countryside to the city. Their dramatic everyday lives illuminate some of the most pressing issues in Vietnam today: ‘The Sticky Rice Seller’ explores gender roles; ‘The Ball Boy’ is all about the struggles of sexual and ethnic minorities; ‘The Professional’ examines relations between rich and poor; ‘The Goalkeeper’ delves into politics and ideology; and ‘The Student’ reflects upon family and faith. The stories also reboot several classics of Vietnamese literature for the twenty-first century. These novellas reveal the deepest sentiments of Vietnamese youth as they – like youth everywhere – come of age, fall in love and contest their destiny.
This book was researched and written with my colleagues and friends Katrina Lee-Koo and Bina D’Costa. All of us had children during the process. Children and Global Conflict is currently being translated in Spanish. Here’s the blurb.
Over one billion people under the age of eighteen live in territories affected by armed conflict. Despite this, scholars and practitioners often lack a comprehensive knowledge of how children both struggle within and shape conflict zones. Children and Global Conflict provides this understanding with a view to enhancing the prospects of conflict resolution and peacebuilding. This book presents key ideas and issues relating to children’s experiences of war, international relations and international law. The authors explore the political, conceptual and moral debates around children in these contexts and offer examples and solutions based on case studies of child soldiers from Vietnam, child forced migrants in Australia, young peace-builders in post-conflict zones, youth in the international justice system, and child advocates across South Asia and the Middle East.
The Culture Wars and my colleagues who contributed to the book have helped shape how I understand politics as being not just about power, but also the values and visions that give power direction and meaning. My chapters focus on the 21st century debates around migration, religion and bogans.