I’m oversensitive to criticism of Australia by famous authors. Richard Flanagan, elated at winning the Man Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North, proceeded to tell British audiences that he was ashamed of being Australian when asked about Tony Abbott’s ‘coal is good for humanity’ statement: ‘Our government seems committed to destroying what we have that’s unique in the world’. Flanagan’s views on climate change are unsurprising, especially for a Tasmanian, but he is entitled to express them. Early next morning (GMT) he gave a charming and more measured interview to Leigh Sales. One could see why the Duchess of Cornwall seemed happy to accept his embrace.
A few nights later Leigh had a more difficult time interviewing Peter Carey on his new book Amnesia, ‘inspired’ by Julian Assange (or Edward Snowden). Carey was largely incomprehensible as well as unappealing. Leigh probably wished she was back on maternity leave. Carey gave us a burst of fiction claiming the CIA were behind the Dismissal. If so, it was one of their more useful missions.
Australians like forcing visitors to express opinions about us. Our book group has just discussed Susannah Fullerton’s delightful Brief Encounters in which she describes visits to Australia of 11 famous opinionated authors including Darwin, Trollope, Kipling and Agatha Christie. Some of our group were irritated by their criticisms. Perhaps we shouldn’t care so much.
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