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Distant Land/Waten, Judah/Paper/1875684697/S036-E
The life of Joshua Kuperschmidt is a journey through the 20th century world. The journey of an intelligent, prejudiced, likeable person towards fine understanding. From the frontiers of Russia and Poland before World War I, it takes him out of his tight-knit community to a strange land of the other side of the Earth. It's a migration from perils and mutual intolerance, to a safe open society, where his proud exclusive culture has to survive like an exotic plant.
His strong wife Shoshanah, and their three children, are each characters who can instantly be recognised in transplanted communities all over the world.
In Distant Land (1964), his finest novel, Judah Waten boldly promotes the question of assimilation and other issues which today's multiculturalism has to come to grips with. Joshua's story goes to the heart of cultural identity. Issues and memories challenge Australia's Jewish community typify cultural concerns the world over.
Forty years later, in her afterword, Hsu Ming Teo finds in Waten's story the "embrace of the world", which makes it so rewarding to read.
Judah Waten (1911-1987) came to Western Australia from Odessa, Russia when he was four years old. His family then moved to Melbourne in 1926 where Waten spent most of his life. An academic, sometime communist and writer whose controversial positions landed him in jail in England in the 1930s.