Adam Aitken, One Hundred Letters Home
Beautifully written, tightly structured, One Hundred Letters Home is as profoundly moving as it is intelligent and playful. There is the experience here of time's shifting nature, the way memory, need and desire work across the layers of narrative that shape a life, told, untold, remembered, misremembered and forgotten. Memory's work rolls through Aitken's perfectly measured storytelling, vivid and mesmerising in its detail, in the detours and return, in a work that is as aware socially and politically, as it is compassionate and vulnerable. This is a rare work of memoir, expansive in its cultural scope, in the precision of detail and acceptance of the failures of memory, self and family, common to all of us in their variation. Between laughter and tears, the underlying emotional grit and relentlessness of One Hundred Letters Home shifts things, changes you, as Aitken calls to account the past's ongoing presence in how we are to ourselves and each other.
'Aitken’s memoir is less about obsessive, biographical exactitude, and more a movement towards excavation and piecing-together fragments into a distinct identity. The book’s rawness is a manifestation of his remembering and recollecting, like a story torn from an old newspaper, or a confession inside a much-folded letter.' Adam Aitken's One Hundred Letters Home reviewed by Ivy Alvarez in Southerly.
"Adam Aitken’s evocative memoir probes the reasons his father married his mother, an ‘Asian woman’, by researching family history, experimenting with Plots A, B, and C, and intertextual references to Christopher Koch’s 1995 novel Highways to a War, Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, and Marcel Proust’s ‘Swann’s Way’ translated into Thai by his uncle. He tests the construction of his hybridity, the notion of his Asian ‘face’ and where it might be welcome, and where and with whom a trans-Asian citizen belongs." Gay Lynch, Transnational Literature
"There is no labyrinth more difficult to thread, no enigma more baffling, than that represented by our own parents; nor any quest for understanding more seductive, indeed necessary, to attempt. In One Hundred Letters Home Adam Aitken has accomplished the impossible with grace, acumen, humour, pathos and a beautiful sense of when to stand back and let the story tell—or not tell—itself. He has also given us a unique insight into the Asian-Australian milieu of the second half of the twentieth century. And something else as well: a passionate excursion amongst the perils and illuminations of soul-making." Martin EdmondAdam Aitken, One Hundred Letters Home
2016. 304pp. ISBN 978-1-922181-04-6.
Release date: April 2016.
Adam Aitken was born in London. He has enjoyed many foreign residencies and workshops in Hong Kong and Hawai’i. He he has been a lecturer in creative writing, media, discourse, and cultural studies, and is the author of Romeo and Juliet in Subtitles, In One House and Eighth Habitation.