This site brings together the publications of Dr. Sara Niner about people & politics in Timor-Leste.

23 March, 2010

The Launch Machine!

I am feeling so greedy that I had 4 book launches in Australia but after so many years of working alone on the PhD thesis and the book it was so nice to take it out into the world and talk about it and get people’s feedback and reactions. The book launches in different states couldn’t have been more different and are worth a word or two in themselves.

The Melbourne Launch was like a big warm party in the cosy-shabby Bella Union Bar of our great Trades Hall Council building on the edge of the city. This is a building with so much soul and grace it warms you up as you trudge the big stone stairs worn out by the feet of companheiros of the past. I couldn’t think of better place to launch my book in my own hometown and on International Human Rights Day too. It was all so perfect. Xanana visited here for a solidarity love-in in 2000 and it was the home of the East Timor emergency office for years after that too. I loved being able to Viva Xanana in this room and hear friends and family and collegas call it back. Terry Bracks gave a wonderful speech and highlighted the feminist leanings of the book (see her speech below) which is of course why it had to be a sister who launched it.

The Sydney Launch was held at Gleebooks in Glebe—possibly what’s left of Sydney’s bohemian inner city. The big room upstairs was packed with a load of very different people, friends and family, old and new East Timor solidarity folk and political activists of the leftist variety. The event was part of the Andrew McNaughton lecture series which as given by Jude Conway who was also launching her book “Step by Step: Women of East Timor, Stories of Resistance and Survivial’ (Charles Darwin Univeristy Press 2010). I commend this book to you and thank Jude for all her hard work in compiling the stories of these fascinating lives of Timorese women. Thanks to Jefferson and AETA Sydney for organising the event.

Robert Domm, who was the first foreign journalist to interview Xanana in a secret guerrilla camp in Timor in 1990, launched my book in Sydney and it was gratifying to hear him praise the book. I was so elated that someone who features in the book got to launch it and know that he'd really enjoyed the read. He remembered meeting with Fernando Araujo in Surabaya to begin the journey to Timor in 1990 and Fernando passionately thanking him for 'laying down his life for the Timorese cause’, and Robert, taken aback, said maybe they shouldn't get ahead of themselves. After I had read out the chapter in the book that features Robert’s interview describing the arduous 20k uphill march to reach the camp he also admitted that they had had to fudge the details a little to throw the Indonesian’s off the scent and it really hadn't been that far or that arduous!

The Adelaide Launch the next day was a more refined affair held on a balmy afternoon at Kathleen Lumley College but what would you expect of the civilised city of Adelaide. Assoc Prof Felix Patrikeef, head of the Australian Institute of International Affairs in Adelaide gave a erudite launch speech focussing on his speciality of political leadership. I was most pleased that someone could use a quote from Shakespeare in a speech launching my book. His close reading of the book and insight into Xanana’s political leadership was a great joy for me to listen to. Thanks to Andy Alcock and Cathy for their generous hospitality and friendship.

Parliament House in Canberra was the penultimate. My dear colleaga MP Janelle Saffin launched it in one of the courtyards with Timorese coffee and Portuguese tarts. Jorge Camoes the charge d’affaires at the Timor-Leste Embassy shared some kind words about the book. Thanks also very much to the Portuguese Ambassador for coming and promising to read the book. In fact thanks to everyone who bought the book and I would love to hear what you think.

As you can tell I’ve just had the most wonderful time launching the book which is why I made the most of it. As I said at the beginning after so long alone with the words and the computer I just had to share it as much as possible! Although I feel greedy about having so many lauches I am already starting to think I simply must have one in Dili now that I am here! Let's see what happens...

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