Despite the increased time spent alone, indoors and with not many distractions to go to this year, has anyone else found they simply haven’t been reading? Exhausted by a news cycle that seems to ratchet up the volume of bad news by the hour, bookmarking articles about self-care and never reading them, throwing our phones down in frustration only to eventually pick them back up again because it feels like if we don’t something urgent might escape us—that was about as close to ‘reading’ as we got from around April onwards.
Sure, we’ve tried. There’s a dog-eared copy of Frank Herbert’s Dune with a bookmark that’s creeping closer and closer to center on our bedside tables. (After only a short six months, too.) Thankfully, amidst the fears that our ability and appetite to read anything had been entirely eroded, a beautiful new collection of words has arrived to remind us of their enduring power and much-needed solace.
If you’re not yet familiar with Liminal, they’re an online publication that, helmed by editor Leah Jing McIntosh, publishes an interview with an Asian-Australian every week. While there is power in sharing the near-universal anecdote of growing up Asian in Australia of your ethnic lunch being interrogated on the school playground, these interviews go a little deeper. You’ll find conversations about community with cookbook author and publishing pathfinder Hetty McKinnon. There are chats with media fixtures like Benjamin Law alongside reflections from cabaret and jazz artist-activist Mama Alto. All of them offer up a nuanced, personal reflection on what it means to be Asian-Australian.
Now, out today from one of the most thoughtful publications currently shaping the Australian reading list and culture conversations, comes Collisions: Fictions Of The Future. The slim tome has been published by Pantera Press, helped on its way into the light by publisher Lex Hirst, and it marks Liminal’s first foray into printed fiction. In the wake of conversations around racial justice and representation entering the wider public consciousness this year, so many people have made a concerted effort to make their reading habits more diverse. Let us urge you to put Collisions, titled in full as Fictions of the Future: an anthology of Australian Writers of Colour, next on your list.
While the collection of stories in Collisions is tagged as fictional, the writing is so acutely luminous, alive and tapped in it often feels more like reading a diary. There are speculative tales about the gentrification of Sydney’s western suburbs in Naima Ibrahim’s ‘Auburn Heights.’ There are quiet, solitary moments. Claire Cao’s ‘See You Tomorrow’ character, Li Xuan, muses on how she came to be getting her queer grandson a bubble tea while deftly stepping through the complicated palimpsest of her own feelings and memories. Here, reading feels personal—like tracing the experiences of people you know, the family you haven’t seen, looking into the spaces that are so often relegated to the margins.
In her introduction to Collisions, McIntosh notes how books have the “capacity for comfort, to soothe, to test, to stretch.” She also notes the limitations of any one volume in addressing the myriad experiences of Asian-Australians in the face of structural racism. Its true, Collisions isn’t about everybody, but we do think it should be read by everyone. And when you’re moved, or you see yourself or your friends, or you understand someone else a little better? Don’t forget to keep reading.
Collisions: Fiction of the Future, edited by Leah Jing McIntosh, Cher Tan, Adalya Nash Hussein and Hassan Abul is out now at all good bookstores.