University of Adelaide
The years immediately preceding 1989 in China were marked by an atmosphere of experiment and speculation in many areas of life, not least in literature and the arts, starting, say, from the ‘culture fever’ (wenhua re) of 1986. Such experimentation was existential, extending to lifestyles and including speculation about leaving the country, with Australia as a destination. Salons, including democracy salons, were part of this fever, in which freedom of expression and freedom of association combined, sometimes cautiously, sometimes in free-wheeling ways. It was a poet friend who, for me, late in 1988, first predicted what would happen in 1989. New kinds of creative expression played a key role in what was happening, as I hope to show as I recall some of what I experienced in China at that time. The author was Cultural Counsellor at the Australian Embassy in Beijing from 1987 to 1990.
Nicholas Jose has published seven novels, three collections of short stories, Black Sheep: Journey to Borroloola (a memoir), and essays, mostly on Australian and Asian culture. He was Cultural Counsellor at the Australian Embassy Beijing, 1987-90 and Visiting Chair of Australian Studies at Harvard University, 2009-10. He is Professor of English and Creative Writing at The University of Adelaide.