Ali Alizadeh; University of Queensland Press, 2013; 240pp; $19.95 (paperback)
There is something of the style of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas or Ghostwritten (or even of Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller) in this book of thematically-related short stories by Iranian-born, Australian academic and writer Ali Alizadeh. It’s a work which tries to shed light on the moral and political centre by exploring the darkness on the fringes. The best writing of this sort is usually done by those who have lived on those fringes, as Alizadeh has in his experiences as an Iranian migrant. He is also well travelled in both geographic and cultural senses. The book is a commentary and exposition of the costs of human ‘transactions’ in a range of contexts, but which form a cohesive narrative about the sad fact that, in every market, there are losers. The larger the market (globalisation) the greater the gulf between winners and losers. Homogeneity of opportunity and meaning may seem like an ideal to aspire to, but it can lead to cultural sterility and generational disillusionment.