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Response to Paul Sharrad


I’m writing in response to Paul Sharrad’s essay ‘Reconfiguring “Asian
Australian” Writing’  in Southerly 70.3: India, India.

I found Sharrad’s essay engaging and rather comprehensive, but I also found
the claim that a ‘hippie’ author like Vicki Viidikas is somehow to blame for
the apparent “trailing off” of “‘mainstream’ Australian literary connection
to India” (p. 13) rather problematic. Viidikas’s superb India Ink is without
a doubt one of the most conceptually and formally striking instances of an
Australian author engaging with India, and I’m delighted to see that Malati
Mathur acknowledges this important work in the same issue of Southerly and
by so doing addresses what I see as a shortcoming in Sharrad’s otherwise
fine essay.

I feel Sharrad’s dismissal (and, if I’m reading him correctly, condemnation)
of Viidikas is rather curious: one female Australian writer (Inez Baranay)
has been emphasised at the expense of anther female Australian writer
(Viidikas) being marginalised. Has this to do with class? Cultural capital?
Politics? Or am I reading too much into this?

Dr. Ali Alizadeh
Deakin University

One Comment

Leave a Comment
  1. Paul Sharrad / Nov 13 2012 12:35 am

    Always interesting to see how one’s work is received. My admittedly rather throwaway mention of Viidikas is simply provided as one example of a generation of travellers who wrote about India: it is the volume of work of that generation that I suggest might have something to do with the tapering off for a while at least of Australian literary engagements with India (the sense that ‘it’s been done'; find something else to write about). I can’t really see how one might infer condemnation of Viidikas from this, but it certainly was not intended. She is one of the more interesting example of her time.

    Paul Sharrad
    Wollgonong University

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