Unpolished Gem Essay

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------------------------------------------------- Interview Questions for Alice Pung ------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------- Written by Laura Gordon 1. Tell us a little about the experience of writing your first novel Unpolished Gem? What was the inspiration and what did you find the hardest? Growing up, the only kind of literature that involved people who were from my kind of cultural background seemed to be Oriental Cinderella stories and migrant narratives of success. Instead of inspiring me, they actually made me feel like an abject failure. When will I ever accumulate enough suffering to be a real writer? I wondered. I had defeated no communists/nationalists/evil stepmothers, did not have a seedy past or narcotic addiction, and the only thing I had ever smoked was salmon (in the oven). Then I thought, damn it, I'm not going to start with the struggles of war, but something more Marxist - it would be about a working class family and their petit bourgeois dreams. And damn those who perpetuate the stereotype of the joyless Asian. My characters are going to laugh. So Unpolished Gem was begun, a book that was premised on poking fun of my abysmally low, adolescent self-esteem; and a book about my love for my quirky, daggy family. 2. You have described this book as being about “yellow people aspiring to be middle class.” Can you tell us a little more about that? I grew up in the working class suburb of Braybrook, surrounded by bogans and bogasians, which are bogan-Asians. While our parents worked, we were fed a steady diet of television dreams. I remember watching advertisements for a Cruise Ship called Fair Star, and realizing that my parents never took holidays. They were working to get themselves - and us - out of poverty, towards owning a house and land package in the safer, verdant,
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