Saturday, August 19, 2006

Alex Buzo dies

Australian-Albanian author Alex Buzo passed away this week. Here's a brief extract from Neverland and makes reference to his views. Alex Buzo’s Norm and Akif The sudden reversal from warm hospitality to cold expulsion evokes a fear of difference that seems buried deep in the Australian psyche. Akif’s own plight had been anticipated in dramatic form by Alex Buzo, who is Australia’s most prominent person of Albanian stock. Buzo’s father was born in the ancient Albanian town of Berat in 1912 and was educated in American schools before arriving in Australia in the 1930s. The name ‘Buzo’ means ‘diver’ in Spanish. Alex Buzo’s mother was of Irish descent. Buzo’s first play, Norm and Ahmed (1968), anticipated the denouement of the Kosovar’s Australian reception. A construction worker asks for a light from a passing Pakistani student. The ocker host tries to loosen up this deferential visitor and introduce him to Australian ways, but he is intimidated by the student’s formal way of speaking. With almost sadistic pleasure, Buzo lures the audience into thinking that there is some real rapprochement occurring. This is swiftly undermined in the final moment of the play, where Norm dispatches the Pakistani with the epitaph ‘fuckin’ boong’. The play was recently revised as Normie and Tuon (1999); the foreigner has become a Vietnamese, who confronts a war veteran. Buzo compares the friendly/hostile switch to the Kosovar story: ‘The big thing in the Kosovar case was the lack of perceived gratitude.’ Despite the parallel theme, and his Albanian ancestry, Alex Buzo has never been called on to speak about the Kosovar refugees. He is better known as an expert on the peculiarities of Australian culture, with publications such as Real Men Don't Eat Quiche and A Dictionary of the Almost Obvious. In this respect, Buzo is a prime candidate for the position of ‘Albanian for the other’. With gentle mockery, he documents the idiosyncrasies of Australian culture. Buzo is a proud nationalist; his 1972 play Macquarie passionately upholds the reputation of Governor Macquarie above the mean-spirited policies of Samuel Marsden. Yet at the same time, there is a fatalism running through Buzo’s writing about the possibility of reconciliation between Aussie and foreigner. His pessimism remains a challenge to the bright-eyed parade of Aussie icons that stands for national pride. (Image to the left is the cover of the Herald Sun when Victoria opened its hearts to the Kosovar refugees. The first, and perhaps only, time that the tabloid has sported a headline in Albanian.} Posted by Picasa

1 comment:

David J said...

Nice Post,
I know this is a month late and I did read it when first posted.
Interesting Bio on the writer. I liked your discription of the closing scene I would have liked to have seen that one.