Griffith Review 37: Small World

Griffith Review 37: Small World

Julianne Schultz (ed.), Text

Griffith Review is a great journal. It always includes a vibrant mix of essays, photography, fiction, memoir and reportage. This issue doesn’t disappoint as it reflects on the global engagement Australian travellers enjoy.

Affluence has meant that an incredible one third of the Australian population travelled abroad in 2011, joining almost a billion tourists in the air, aboard trains, on the road and on board ships.

Over one fifth of Australian citizens are born overseas on the one hand yet, on the other, an increasing number of Australian-born citizens are upping stumps and moving elsewhere. Technological advances such as the internet, social media and the international airline industry have effectively created a “small world”.

Small World explores the way we travel now and where. From the motorbike-choked streets of Phnom Penh to the bone-dry terrain of Egypt to the Neon Boneyard on the outskirts of Las Vegas, readers are transported to disparate corners of the world as each writer tells their story.

Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler gives snapshots of his travels in “bad, troubled or even simply obscure, ignored places” like Jerusalem, Kinshasa, Bogota, Port-au-Prince and Harare. Contrasting this is Brett Caldwell’s description of life in a mountainous region of Papua New Guinea.

“Hotel Hell” is Gail Bryant’s story of surviving the Mumbai terrorist bombings, while Jane Goodall and Nicolas Haeffner offer a glimpse of Bucharest as it recovers from the horrors of the Ceausescu era.

Most poignant for me is the memoir “Letters from Sarajevo”, which features letters exchanged between three women: one from Melbourne travelling back to Sarajevo, another living in Melbourne, with the third trying to eke out a life in Sarajevo, where 16 years after the war the spirit of the people is destroyed.

It typifies the underlying theme of Small World, where tourists are able to return home leaving whatever experience they have found at their destination.

There is much more to offer in this fascinating issue. Highly recommended.

Karyl Davison

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