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Besemeres, Mary

Mary Besemeres is a Research Fellow at Curtin University of Technology. She is the author of Translating One’s Self: Language and selfhood in cross-cultural autobiography (Peter Lang, 2002) and articles on bilingual life writing. She co-edits the journal Life Writing.
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Translating Lives

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Once he stepped off that plane he never spoke in Portuguese to us again. We lost our daily rituals ... I also lost a certain emotional landscape. My father expressed his love to me in Portuguese in a way he never could in English. Although Australia prides itself on being multicultural, many Australians have little awareness of what it means to live in two cultures at once, and of how much there is to learn about other cultural perspectives. Translating Lives is an immensely moving collection of personal stories tracing the experiences of twelve people living in Australia who speak more than one language. Contributors including Kim Scott and Eva Sallis show how their experiences of language colour the way they relate to people and the way they see the world. Through their eyes, we learn how language, culture and identity are intrinsically linked. Illuminating and insightful, Translating Lives is an engrossing read for every Australian wanting to understand the complex culture we live in today. 'Translating Lives is a book of revelations. It is a journey through an Australia composed of a multiplicity of languages and, therefore, many inner worlds. The journey moves, in a series of personal encounters, from indigenous languages, many of which were tragically lost, to the languages of our newest arrivals from all continents of the globe. Through embracing, nurturing and retrieving its many languages and linguistic hybrids, Australia can be re-imagined and transformed into a nation of countless dreamings.’ -Arnold Zable