Since submitting my Masters thesis in mid-October, I’ve slowly unwound with lots of walking, swimming, talking, reading and a little bit of TV watching (Homeland, series 4, only so-so). All that, plus my usual stay-at-home Mum commitments. I have a long list of books to read, but the two stand-outs have been The Wife Drought, by Annabel Crabb, and Walking Free, by Munjed al Muderis. I haven’t branched out into fiction yet!
The Wife Drought was reviewed masterfully for The Monthly by Anne Manne: http://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2014/november/1414760400/anne-manne/wife-and-times Writing in her usual engaging, insightful style, Crabb could have been writing about myself and many of my friends. She covered so many of our experiences that it was by turns depressing, hilarious and liberating. She argues that things need to change not just for women but for men. In the realm of those who desire both a career and a family, men are missing out just as much as women are. We also need to lose the guilt! Read the book for the laughs, but also for the suggestions about how as a society, we might start to influence the way life for our children looks.
Al Muderis’ book was deeply absorbing. It is the biography of an Iraqi-Australian, now a world-leading orthopaedic surgeon, specialising in osseointegration (bionic people, essentially: http://www.almuderis.com.au/osseointegration). The book is written in a conversational style, tracing Al Muderis’ journey from war-torn Iraq in 1999 to Australia, as a ‘boat person,’ or asylum seeker. I was fascinated by the depiction of his comfortable, secular upbringing in the leafy, cosmopolitan city of Baghdad of the 1970s and 80s. His flight from Iraq began when he refused to follow Saddam’s orders to mutilate army deserters. The story of his journey to Australia is eye-opening, and possibly provides more detail about the operations of the so-called people smugglers than is known to date. Al Muderis is scathing of many of his fellow-refugees, and reminds us of the shades of grey which emerge from war-zones, but also the potential which immigrants bring. I must mention the wonderful cameo appearance in the book of Magistrate Antoine Bloeman, a lively figure in my own childhood. Al Muderis was left bemused by his court appearance before Bloeman, but Bloeman has done many great things in his time – he would be a worthy subject of a biography or memoir of his own! To find out more, read the book. It’s a quick, but thoroughly illuminating read that will stay with you.
Al Muderis recently spoke to Margaret Throsby on the ABC in Australia: the podcast is available here: http://www.abc.net.au/classic/content/2014/11/06/4103757.htm