Griffith Review 69: The European Exchange (Griffith University 2020), co-edited by Ashley Hay and Natasha Cica, explores ‘how Australia and Europe continue to connect and converse’. The essays, reportage and memoir cover a range of topics from colonialism to multiculturalism, from migration to genocide, from war to recipes, from cultural cringe to hidden histories, from strangers and foreign lands to Brexit and identity, from class to racism to justice.
This issue is particularly heavy with non-fiction and factual reportage and academic-like research and discussion. This will particularly appeal to those readers with a keen interest in European-Australian connections, migration, multiculturalism and the legalities of culture. There are only four fiction pieces included in this issue, wonderful contributions by Brendan Colley, Lee Kofman, Arnold Zable and probably my favourite, ‘Brisbane, late 1960’s’ by Anthony Macris. Four poems (including ‘Mother-daughter trip’ by Anna Jacobson) and two stunning visual picture galleries round out this edition that is otherwise quite dense and impactful reading. While not all the articles in this edition resonated with me, the quality of the writing is as usual of a very high standard, and I know that for particular readers and researchers, the themes and issues covered will be pertinent, meaningful and powerful.
Ashley Hay and Natasha Cica describe the momentous changes occurring at the time of commissioning this collection, putting it together and distributing it, and how the (post-pandemic) world has changed so many notions of connection, of which international travel was only one small part. They also draw inferences about our Eurocentric mindset, and our continued response (or lack of) to the invasion of this land by European settlers. When read together, all of the pieces in this collection produce a feeling of more questions asked than answered, of continuing curiosity towards our collective histories and alliances, and of divided loyalties – still – between our past, our present and our future.
With contributions by Christos Tsiolkas, George Megalogenis, Julienne van Loon, Frank Bongiorno, Robyn Archer, Irris Makler, Gabriella Coslovich and Pat Hoffie, this is truly a multicultural edition compiled from a great depth of informed writers.
They write about art, history, food, travel, belonging, identity, exile, financial crises, music, salons, literature, plagues, architecture, lighthouses, the Nazis, explorers, botany, dark tourism, climate change, biodiversity, post-war refugees, libraries, Old Worlds and New Worlds. They write of trauma, memories, shared histories, significant touchstones and families. They write of cities: Paris, Prague, London, Berlin, Budapest, Krakow, Rome, Sarajevo, Vienna and Athens.
This edition would be a valuable resource for anyone researching or studying European connections, or those interested in their own European histories.