This body of work represents the last five years of my writing. My perspective is of someone who has now spent the major part of 24 years living outside the borders of his own country, Australia.
As in my first book, Seen and unseen: a century of stories from Asia and the Pacific, it delves into the past but it’s not a mere historical journey.
As the title, Tales Beyond Borders: conversations across boundaries, implies the stories are both beyond borders in the physical sense and also in an existential sense.
Living in Singapore presents an opportunity for reflection from a new vantage point, a globalised space on the margin of the Asian continent. From here there is an excellent view of the south, to Nusantara, Melanesia and on to my own continent. Also being here has enabled easier access to the ‘Old World’ so the stories also drift into encounters with some of the foundational features of my own source culture.
As well as historical work my stories traverse the contemporary world with tales drawn from settings including Greece, Turkey, Malaysia, Indo-China, Indonesia, Timor L’Este and Australia.
Scope of my work
‘Beyond Borders’ spans a period from my childhood in the 1950s to the present. It is divided into Childhood and Beyond (five stories), Youthful Years (three stories), and Adult Years (sixteen stories) spanning the last five years of my life.
Childhood and Beyond begins with, Iniquity Shall Abound, set in 2003 as a way of contrasting the simplicity of my own childhood with that of a group of Iraqi children in Australian immigration detention.
Seventy Year On, and The Bay of Debris, from the 1950s and beyond, interpret the life of a child against the social and physical environment of the time. The Bay of Debris also moves forward in time including my own children’s experiences as we explore the gradual appearance of plastic in the environment.
Unravelling Crossie’s Past, and Lost, are stories of unusual people adopting different strategies as they search for a place in Australian society.
Youthful Years, unfolding in the 1960s, shows a transition from high school to university against growing conflict in Indochina. It reveals the reality of war for Australian youth, touching on civil disobedience, death, and a conflict between father and son.
Adult Years contains a diverse array of stories from seven countries and the Australasian region. Peter’s Story unfolds before the great Byzantine cathedral Hagia Sophia while Going Down, Garam Masala, and Beyond the Geomorphic, are gentle tales set largely in Singapore.
Austerities Dawn and Resilience or Resignation are set in Athens during the Greek economic crisis of 2015.
Can you help me? is the story of a confidence trickster in Malaysia.
The Australian stories comprise, A Sergeant’s Progress, an insider’s story of a notorious politician, A Land of Ancient Belonging Places, inspired by a Murri friend, Memories of Fires Past response to fire, and A Morning by the River exploring impacts of the 2002 Bali Bombings
Three stories set in Timor L’Este span the period of Indonesian occupation and its tragic consequences.
Concluding the work are Tarzan in Tights, an account of a friend’s life, humour and cremation, and Jero’s Story, about a woman rejecting the Balinese patriarchal tradition.
Over the next few months, I will be showcasing each of the stories with background and images.