“These are the photographs we take” was published in Growing up Asian in Australia in 2008. An earlier version of the story was published in Culture Is… by Wakefield Press 2008.
At the time Growing up … was published Poh had yet to win Masterchef, Benjamin Law was an up-and-coming young writer from Brisbane, and people still had Myspace accounts. People thought that Pauline Hanson was just that ‘lady on TV’ who almost won Dancing with the Stars. People could still get book deals from writing anonymous blogs back in 2008 and people thought it odd that one would share every detail of their life with the other 6.7 billion or so people in the world.
I wrote the story in 2005 when I was living overseas and heard on the news that an Australian drug trafficker was on death row. It was the first time I heard someone who was visibly ‘Asian’ with an ‘Asian’ name referred to as an ‘Australian’. I followed the case because he was around my age and I thought how sad it was that only in death that he was reclaimed as ‘one of us’. I was not reading Orwell at the time and the line “His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live.” (from ‘The Hanging’) inspired me to write the story. I wrote it as an experimental short-story and not one that was specifically about growing up Asian in Australia. However, when I saw the opportunity to submit something for Alice Pung’s anthology I decided to send this one.
Black Inc Teaching Notes for Growing up Asian in Australia [PDF]
Sunday Times Magazine, June 2, 2008.