Literary ‘Straya has been all agog over an article by young Australian novelist Jessie Tu in the Age and SMH last week – agog because it is by common consent one of the worst ever culture opinion pieces to be published in those papers’ book pages.
Tu, author of A Lonely Girl is A Dangerous Thing, is famous/notorious for saying she would only ever read novels by non-whites and LGBTQI people. She must have made an exception for Irish novelist Sally Rooney, because the piece bags Rooney, author of the hugely praised and mega-selling Normal People for, uh, writing about white people.
Most think Rooney’s success is due to her pared down style and precise structuring but for Tu her success is entirely due to the fact of her potato pale colour.
Strange how some many (bad) white writers gets (justifiably) ignored then. And you can imagine what the reaction would have been had Rooney written about, say, the Asian diaspora in the West.
The implication appears to be that Rooney shouldn’t write at all. Still, tu got some attention and maybe some sales, so, score.
But Tu’s stupid spray has raised eyebrows. How did it get published? Presumably Nine papers books editor Jason Steger – a white Englishman who has been in the job for 159 years – thought it was of merit. But it can’t help but burnish his woke credentials. He needn’t worry.
The one thing no-one criticises here is how the plum lit jobs are all still run by white guys – because everyone knows they need to suck up to them to get published or reviewed, until they absolutely fall off the twig.
The Australian literary world. Very normal people.