Gail Jones Interview

Gail Jones, author of Sixty Lights, Dreams of Speaking and Sorry, is interviewed by Summer Block for "January" magazine.

Summer Block: Let's start with some questions about your most recent novel, Sorry. The novel is about forgetting and remembering, and the ways that people and nations can choose to eradicate difficult memories of the past. What is the balance between acknowledging the past, and not letting it dictate your present? Is there a way to truly atone for past national sins? Is it ever possible to really move on and say, OK, now we can put this behind us?

Gail Jones: There is no single response to these complex issues. Each country negotiates its own highly specific history; however the issue of remembering or forgetting is central to all. I am reminded of Milan Kundera's famous statement: "The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting." The first responsibility is to remember what it serves the state to repress; the second to recall, to tell and to consider the recovered history through the lens of justice. My novel allegorizes the "forgetting" of the so-called Stolen Generations in Australia, those Aboriginal children forcibly removed from their families by order of state policy from about 1900 to 1970. The anguish and suffering of these people is the basis for a collection of heart-rending testimonies delivered to the Australian Parliament in May 1997. One of the recommendations of the report was that the government of the day offer a formal apology to indigenous Australians for the wrongs done to them. The [Howard Liberal] government refused to say "sorry," a matter that was rectified [recently] when the new Labour government in Australia, under the leadership of Kevin Rudd, issued an apology at the opening of parliament. This did not necessarily atone or repair the hurt, but it did signal a new initiative for reconciliation and dialogue between Aboriginal and other Australians.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 30, 2008 8:39 AM.

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