Clare Archer-Lean. Cross-Cultural Analysis of the Writings of Thomas King and Colin Johnson (Mudrooroo). Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 2006 [Book review]
journal contributionposted on 21.05.2017 by Carlo Salzani
Any type of content formally published in an academic journal, usually following a peer-review process.
Archer-Lean’s book is an analysis of representations and representativeness. The context is the post-colonial and post-modern end of the millennium in settler societies like Australia and Canada, where the traditional Eurocentric notions of identity and representation are challenged by the rising voices of Indigenous discourses. Comparing two distant and apparently diverse writers like the Indigenous Canadian Thomas King and the Indigenous Australian Colin Johnson, Archer-Lean pursues the similarities that unite their projects in undermining the past representations of Indigeneity. The differences between the two – cultural, thematic, stylistic – are thus acknowledged but partially put aside, in an attempt to focus on the ways in which both authors deal with the question of identity and the act of textual representation. The cross-cultural analysis centres on in the two writers’ common focus on semiotic fields and meta-discursive and intertextual practices aimed at unmasking the colonial discourses. The works analysed are mainly the novels of the two authors: whereas Johnson has written also poetry and plays, and King film, television and radio drama scripts, Archer-Lean limits her analysis to their novelistic production. Another self-imposed limit is in the theoretical approach: whereas the analysis draws from a wide range of theoretical sources, post-modern and feminist interpretations are almost omitted, and post-colonial theory is used “critically” because of King’s and Johnson’s similar scepticism about it; post-colonial terminology like “rehearsal,” “hybridity” and “magic realism” informs the book but is re-visited and re-appropriated.