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Poison of Polygamy
Shee Ping, Wong, Finch, Ely, Kuo, Mei-fen, Williams, Michael

Paperback / softback $35.00 - Sydney University Press
Fiction - Published: 23/Jul/2019 - ISBN: 9781743326022

Serialised in 1909-1910, The Poison of Polygamy is a rare gem of Australian literature. The first novel of the Chinese-Australian experience, it follows the fortunes of a young man who leaves his wife behind in southern China to seek his fortunes in the Victorian goldfields. In a rollercoaster tale of blackmail, murder and betrayal, he encounters all manner of perils, from storms at sea to collapsing gold mines and even a thylacine attack in the Victorian bush.


As Australia's and possibly the West's earliest Chinese-language novel, The Poison of Polygamy reveals the human face of migration between Qing China and colonial Australia, and reflects important Chinese social and political developments of the time. Historical investigation has revealed that many characters and incidents in the story were based on real people and events. In this bilingual edition, the original Chinese text is presented alongside a sensitive and transparent translation into English, complete with illuminating footnotes. Translator's and historians' introductions discuss the linguistic, cultural and historical context of the novel, and establish its unique significance in Australia's literary and social history.




'The discovery of The Poison of Polygamy and its
publication in this highly informative bilingual edition is a double
happiness. It gives readers of literature a highly entertaining new
novel, replete with drama, emotion and intrigue. At the same time it documents
Chinese Australian life in a key period of history, through a story told with
passion and insight by a Chinese writer for Chinese readers. The eloquent
translation by Ely Finch and the generous commentary by the translator and his
colleagues now make this rich material available in English. The Poison of
Polygamy is a valuable addition to Australian literature and to a more
appreciative understanding of the Chinese contribution to Australian society
over many years.' - Nicholas Jose

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  • Poison of Polygamy Paperback / softback $35.00