Abstract

Written during the tentative first decade of multicultural policy in Australia and set in the 1970s, Cappiello's Oh Lucky Country (1984) reveals a view of Australian multiculturalism as exploitative of migrants and their ethnic cultures. The protagonist and narrator, Rosa, struggles with her intersecting identities as a migrant and as a writer within this new multicultural paradigm; her migrant status often thwarts her literary ambitions yet, as a migrant who writes, she presents a desirable cultural resource. Her cultural value as a writer is, however, secondary to her economic value as a worker; Rosa struggles against her working class reality, which she sees as taking time away from her true literary vocation. This paper explores the tension between Rosa's desire to write and her need to work, and the values of these different types of labour within multicultural Australia. It argues that each of Rosa's identities—writer, worker, migrant—all reflect a sense of isolation and marginalisation from both her host society and her ethnic community. It also examines the text's generic categorisation as autobiographical fiction, with a particular consideration of how autobiographical writing by migrants is received popularly and critically.

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