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South Flows the Pearl

Chinese Australian Voices

Mavis Gock Yen, edited by Siaoman Yen and Richard Horsburgh, and introduction by Sophie Loy-Wilson

Regular price $40.00 Sale

Format: paperback

ISBN: 9781743327241

Publication: 01 Feb 2022
Series: China and the West in the Modern World
Publisher: Sydney University Press

South Flows the Pearl is a fascinating journey through the history of Chinese Australia. Taking the reader from Shanghai and the Pearl River Delta to Sydney, Perth, Cairns, Darwin, Bendigo and beyond, it explores the struggles and successes of Chinese people in Australia since the 1850s, as told in their own words.

This unique book was written by an insider. Mavis Yen was born in Perth in 1916, the daughter of a Chinese father and an Australian mother. She lived in both countries and understood what it meant to navigate two worlds, to live through war and revolution, and to experience racial discrimination. In the 1980s she began interviewing elderly Chinese Australians, recording hours of conversations. Her intimate understanding of their languages and life experiences encouraged them to share their stories. Published here for the first time, they will change how you think about Australian history.

“This is a book that offers a new way to be Australian in this country, and casts Chinese Australians as the protagonists in their own stories … When people agree to tell their stories, they speak to the future. Whether or not we listen is up to us.” — Dr Sophie Loy-Wilson, University of Sydney


Mavis Gock Yen was born in Perth in 1916. In 1925 her family moved to Shanghai and during the next twenty years she spent time in both China and Australia. In 1946 she settled in China, where she worked as a journalist and English teacher until after the Cultural Revolution. She returned to Australia with her daughter, Siaoman, in 1981, and studied professional writing at the University of Canberra.

Preface by Professor Kam Louie
Acknowledgments by Siaoman Yen and Richard Horsburgh
Mavis Yen 1916–2008 by Richard Horsburgh and Siaoman Yen

Introduction by Sophie Loy-Wilson

  1. In a nutshell, by Leslie and Thelma Chang
  2. Memories of Sydney’s Chinatown, by Evelyn Yin Lo
  3. Third generation migrant, by Lee Sing
  4. North Queensland, by Frank Lee Gee
  5. Chung Shan County, by Frank Lee Gee
  6. Two worlds, by Harry Gock Ming
  7. The great adventure, by Harry Gock Ming
  8. ‘There’s no gold’, by Leung Pui (梁社培)
  9. The ancestral home, by Harry Gock Ming
  10. ‘Unite to fight the Japanese’, by Frank Lee Gee
  11. The fortune teller, by Harry Gock Ming
  12. Return to Australia, by Frank Lee Gee
  13. Wartime, by Evelyn Yin Lo
  14. The lineage, by Leung Pui
  15. Postwar, by Evelyn Yin Lo
  16. Pioneers in Western Australia, by John Fong 
  17. Don and the Family, by Evelyn Yin Lo
  18. Gold rush heritage, by Hoy Lee
  19. ‘We grew up in the bush’, by Albert Lee On
  20. From a chinese garden, by Peter Wong
  21. The Northern Territory, by Doris Fong Lim and Norman Yeend
  22. ‘I was the lucky one’, by Elizabeth Lee

Conclusion, by Mavis Gock Yen with addendum by Richard Horsburgh

Bibliography by Mavis Gock Yen
Glossary by Siaoman Yen
Index

Format: paperback
Size: 254 × 178 mm
ISBN: 9781743327241
Publication: 01 Feb 2022
Series: China and the West in the Modern World