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Second City

160 pages
Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm
Published May 2021
ISBN 9780648062134

Second City

Essays from Western SydneyEdited by Catriona Menzies-Pike, Luke Carman

Second City presents the diverse literary talents that make Sydney’s western suburbs such a fertile region for writers.

Beginning with Felicity Castagna’s warning about the dangers of cultural labelling, this collection of essays takes resistance against conformity and uncritical consensus as one of its central themes. From Aleesha Paz’s call to recognise the revolutionary act of public knitting, to Sheila Ngoc Pham on the importance of education in crossing social and ethnic boundaries, to May Ngo’s cosmopolitan take on the significance of the shopping mall, the collection offers complex and humane insights into the dynamic relationships between class, culture, family, and love. Eda Gunaydin’s ‘Second City’, from which this collection takes its title, is both a political autobiography and an elegy for a Parramatta lost to gentrification and redevelopment. Zohra Aly and Raaza Jamshed confront the prejudices which oppose Muslim identity in the suburbs, the one in the building of a mosque, the other in the naming of her child. Rawah Arja’s comic essay depicts the complexity of the Lebanese-Australian family, Amanda Tink explores reading Alan Marshall as a child and as an adult, while Martyn Reyes combines the experience of a hike in the Dharawal National Park and an earlier trek in Bangkong Kahoy Valley in the Philippines. Finally, Yumna Kassab’s essay on Jorge Luis Borges reminds us that Western Sydney writing can be represented by no single form, opinion, style, poetics, or state of mind.


Zohra Aly, Frances An, Rawah Arja, Luke Carman, Felicity Castagna, Eda Gunaydin, George Haddad, Raaza Jamshed, Yumna Kassab, May Ngo, Aleesha Paz, Sheila Ngoc Pham, Martyn Reyes, Amanda Tink.

Second City is edited by Catriona Menzies-Pike, editor of the Sydney Review of Books and Luke Carman, author of An Elegant Young Man and Intimate Antipathies. It follows The Australian Face, the 2017 collection of critical essays published by the Sydney Review of Books.

Special Offer

Sydney Review of Books: 3-book bundle
Buy The Australian Face (2017), Second City (2021) and Open Secrets (2022) at a reduced price.

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This book offers portholes into the places where writing happens and portals to the new worlds and ways of living it might create. These essays bear witness to the resilience required to commit to the writing life – and to the vital transformative possibilities of literature, for writers, for readers and our culture.

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