The current Australian political and news-media agenda is very much about “outside” views, tending to treat migrants–including refugees and asylum seekers, for example–as one category of “others” devoid of race, culture or psychological specificities. A compelling aspect of literature’s power is that it transforms such encompassing public issues into humanist stories whose affective and cognitive resonances transcend the limits of political propaganda. It can communicate transculturally, establishing intimate, interpersonal and intercommunal conversations across time and space. Framed by theories of multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism in the contemporary Australian context, this article looks at the recent work of two Sri Lankan-born Australian novelists–Michelle de Kretser and Channa Wickremesekera, who write about migrants, refugees and asylum seekers–with the aim of exploring their alternative understanding of multiculturalism in Australia.
- Channa Wickremesekera
- Michelle de Kretser
- Sri Lankan Australian literature