Non-Anglo Australians are constantly asked, ‘Where were you born, where do you come from?’ The answer is often extraordinary, detailing experiences we can only try to understand. Majok Tulba (Beneath The Darkening Sky), Kooshyar Karimi (I Confess), Arnold Zable (Violin Lessons) and Pauline Nguyen (Secrets of the Red Lantern) talk with Tim Soutphommasane (Don’t Go Back to Where You Came From) about the remarkable stories that brought them to Australia.
Majok Tulba (Australian)
Majok Tulba lives in western Sydney with his wife and children. He is CEO of the charity SudanCare; has had a film as a finalist at Tropfest; and has won a CAL NSW Premier’s Western Sydney Writers’ Fellowship. majoktulba.com
Kooshyar Karimi grew up in abject poverty in the slums of Tehran. His Jewish mother married a Moslem bus driver unaware that he already had three wives and six other children. By the age of 26, Karimi had become a successful doctor, writer and translator. In 1998, he was kidnapped by the Iranian secret police, blindfolded and tortured. When he was eventually released, it was only as a spy. I confess is the story of his survival and flight from certain death. Dr Karimi now lives in Sydney and works as a GP near Newcastle.
Pauline Nguyen is the author of Secrets of the Red Lantern and co-owner of the acclaimed Red Lantern restaurants. She is a mother of two and is a business mentor in her spare time. Pauline’s writing has appeared in The Best Australian Essays 2010, Voracious: The Best New Australian Food Writing and Griffith Review. She holds a BA in Communications from UTS and in 2008 won Newcomer Writer of the Year at the Australian Book Industry Awards. Secrets of the Red Lantern won Best Asian Cookbook in the same year.
Arnold Zable has travelled and lived in the US, India, Papua New Guinea, Europe, Southeast Asia and China, and now lives in Melbourne with his wife and son. His books include Jewels and Ashes, Café Scheherazade, The Fig Tree, Scraps of Heaven, Sea of Many Returns and Violin Lessons. Arnold is president of the International PEN, Melbourne, and is a human rights advocate. arnoldzable.com
Tim Soutphommasane is a political philosopher at the University of Sydney's Institute for Democracy and Human Rights. He is a columnist with The Age and fellow at Per Capita, and sits on the board of the National Australia Day Council and the Australian Multicultural Council. He is a regular on ABC radio and television, often to offer insights into Australia’s approach to multiculturalism. His latest book is Don’t Go Back to Where You Came From and his other books include The Virtuous Citizen, Reclaiming Patriotism, and All That’s Left. soutphommasane.com.au