‘…An Asian Dummy with an Aussie Voice’: Ventriloquism and Authenticity in Nam Le’s The Boat and Tim Winton’s The Turning

Lachlan Brown


This paper presents a number of key similarities between Nam Le’s story ‘Halflead Bay’ in The Boat and Tim Winton’s 2004 collection of short stories The Turning. Indeed the scale and type of these similarities indicates more than a subconscious attempt at creating what could be considered a quintessentially regional Australian voice. There seems to be mimicry, counterfeit or the call of the lyrebird at play in this story. Picking up Ken Gelder’s ideas of citation and ventriloquism from his 2010 discussion of proximate reading, alongside Connor's discussion of ventriloquism in Dumdstruck, this paper considers the implications of Le’s attempts to ‘out-Winton’ Winton in ‘Halflead Bay.’ Of particular relevance here is Le’s own exploration of ventriloquism and accents in his Wheeler Centre presentation ‘Voices from Elsewhere’, as well the attention he pays to accents, location and problematic authenticity in The Boat’s opening story.


Nam Le; Ventriloquism; Authenticity; Ethnicity

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