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Summary of each piece 

Key to Classification: HR – Highly Recommend f, R – Recommend BR – Background Reading, D- Difficult for some 

Alice Pung – Introduction. (HR)


Some discussion on growing up, the intention of the anthology and a discussion of the themes and organization of the writing pieces.

‘Strine’

Amy Choi – The Relative Adventures of Learning My Language (BR)
Learns to value the language of her grandparents and parents after the death of her grandfather.

Sunil Badami – Sticks and Stones and Such-Like (HR)
Endearing piece about how his desperation to fit in causes him to change his name. His mother finds out and reveals the true meaning behind his name.

Tom Cho – Learning English (BR)
Very short piece on learning English and the influence of English speaking celebrities.

Ivy Tseng – Chinese Lessons (BR)
The value her father had on teaching her Chinese and how much she disliked it as a child, but then learns to value it as she grows older and can no longer understand her father.

‘Pioneers’

Ken Chau – The Early Settlers (D)
Poem on the early settlers, both Chinese and anglo-saxon and the fear they had for each other.

Ken Chau – The Terrorists (HR)
Poem subverting the current notion of terrorists.

Francis Lee – The Upside-Down Year (BR)
An international student receiving a scholarship to travel to Australia by ship to study. He never returns to Hong Kong.

Thao Nguyen The Water Buffalo (D)
A figurative piece very rich in imagery about the generational divide. Only for very capable students.

Christopher Cyrill – The Ganges and its Tributaries (D)
Story of settling in Australia and his father creating a highly detailed map of India and the surrounding regions.

Simon Tong – The Beat of a Different Drum (R)
The harassment that came from starting at a new school in Australia.

‘Battlers’

Hop Dac – Pigs from home (D)
This has some confronting description of the harsh reality of farming pigs.

Annette Shun Wah – Spiderbait (BR)
Description of the challenging and demanding work that is chook farming. Again has some confronting images about making a living from a difficult occupation.

Lily Chan – Take me Away, Please (HR)
Her parents owned the only Chinese Takeway shop in a small town and she had to work behind the counter after school.

Kevin Lai & Matt Huynh – ABC Supermarket (HR)
Comic format. The account of the demise of their family supermarket.

‘Mates’

Aditi Gouvernel – Wei-Lei and Me (HR)
Uplifting account of being bullied at school, and finding an ally in another new student who gives her a reason to stand up to the bully.

Oliver Phommavanh – Hot and Spicy (HR)
Being the embarrassed son of Thai parents and the owners of the only Thai restaurant in town, he tries to sabotage the school lunch his parents provide the food for.

Ray Wing-Lun – Lessons from my school years (BR)
The son of parents who owned a fruit shop in the North Shore of Sydney. Desperate to go to school and then discovering he had to do things his own way to make sense of it all.

Tanveer Ahmed – Exotic Rissole (BR)
Growing up with his ‘aussie’ best mate and coveting his homemade rissoles. The truth is eventually revealed as they go their separate ways.

‘The Folks’

Vanessa Woods – Perfect Chinese Children (HR)
After her Australian father divorces her Chinese mother, they grow up with less that other students. The realization that she has disappointed her mother has great significance for her.

Simone Lazaroo – The Asian Disease (BR)
Sitting with her father on his deathbed she reflects on how he has been made to feel that being Asian is a disease for most of his life.

Rudi Soman – Crackers (BR)


The story of the different ways in which her family go about catching a mouse.

Oanh Thi Tran – Conversations with my parents (BR)


Moving away from parents and having very brief conversations where the important things are left out.

Bon-Wai Chou – The Year of the Rooster (BR) The loss of her father.

Mia Francis – Are you different? (HR)
As parents they adopted a child from the Philippines and she wonders how well she did at exposing him to his culture of origin.

‘The Clan’
Benjamin Law – Tourism (HR)

A funny piece on visiting amusement parks and other entertainment venues.

Ken Chau – The Family Tree (HR)
Poem on the role of women in Asian culture.

Ken Chau – The Firstborn (D)
A poem on being the firstborn in the family.

Diem Vo – Family Life (R)
The family owns a video store and this piece reveals the drinking and camaraderie that comes from having lots of relatives nearby.

Ken Chan – Quarrel (BR)
The ongoing feud between the grandmother and grandfather and the impact this has on the family.

HaiHa Le – Ginseng Tea and a Pair of Thongs (D) Recalls the life and experience of his parents.

‘Legends’


Phillip Tang – Teenage Dreamers (BR)

Spending time with his father who predicts the death of their idol.

Shalini Akhil – Destiny (HR)
Realisation that she can only become a different kind of Wonder Woman.

Cindy Pan – Dancing Lessons (BR)
Having her Dad teach her to dance as he reminisces about his idols.

Chin Shen – Papa Bear (HR)
Very funny account of his father and all his quirks.

Glenn Lieu & Matt Huynh – A New Challenger (BR)
Graphic account of hanging around the arcade games after school.

‘The Hots’
Benjamin Law – Towards Manhood (BR)

As a gay teenager he spends his teenage years worried that he is not manly enough.

Chi Vu – The Lover in the Fish Sauce (D)


A confusing figurative tale about two young lovers and the different backgrounds they came from.

Xerxes Matza – The Embarrassments of the Gods (BR) Lots of sexual references about the men in his family.

Lian Low – My First Kiss (BR)
Hiding her secret affinity with KD Lang and dealing with being gay.

Jenny Kee – A Big Life (D)
Reflections on her sexual awakening during the 1960’s.

‘UnAustralian?’
Uyen Loewald – Be Good, Little Migrants (HR)

Excellent poem on the irony of this mindset.

Leanne Hall – How to be Japanese (HR)
Struggling with her Chinese heritage, especially as she worked as a model for a Japanese beer company at one stage.

Tony Ayres – Silence (HR)
A gay man on the receiving end of a violent, racist outburst, and the shame in how he handled it.

James Chong – Anzac Day (HR)
A boy marches proudly on Anzac Day before he is targeted and questioned as being ‘true blue’.

Mei Yen Chua – Special Menu (D)
An interesting take on some traditional menus.

Michelle Law – A Call to Arms (HR)
A family holiday to Hong Kong where she feels some sense of belonging and realizes she has embarrassed her mother.

Joo-Inn Chew – Chinese Dancing , Bendigo Style (BR) Growing up in a country town.

‘Tall Poppies’

Interviews with a range of Asian-Australians who have been very successful in a diverse range of fields.

‘Leaving Home’
Diana Nguyen – Five ways to disappoint your Vietnamese mother (HR)

A heart-wrenching description of how to do exactly as the title suggests.

Pauline Nguyen – The Courage of Soldiers (D)
Very sensitive material about the extensive abuse at the hands of her father. Worth reading depending on the class.

Paul Nguyen – You Can’t Choose Your Memories (D)
Very difficult read about losing his father at a young age and having a poor relationship with his mother who eventually rejects him when he tells her he is gay.

Emily J. Sun – These are the photographs we take (D)
Confronting piece about the turn a life can take when getting mixed up with the wrong kind of people.

‘Homecoming’

Kylie Kwong – My China (BR)
A world-renowned chef, she returns to the village of her family to cook a feast for them all to join in.

Blossom Beeby – The Face in the Mirror (BR)
She was adopted as a baby from Korea and eventually returns to find her origins.

Jacqui Larkin – Baked Beans and Burnt Toast (HR)
A beautiful piece on returning her father’s ashes to his homeland, Hong Kong. Her first trip there makes her feel as out of place as she did when she first started school.

Sim Shen – Hanoi and Other Homes (BR)
Going to Vietnam to work and reflecting on how his own unborn child will have a mix of ancestry.

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