The tradition of this student anthology is older than UTS itself, with the first issue published way back when UTS was the NSW Insititue of Technology. My tradition of reading it started in my very first year at UTS (but you don’t need to know when that was!). Now in its 31st edition, I don’t hesitate to declare that And Watch the Whale Explode lives up to the reputation built by its predecessors. If this book was a person, it would be a millennial. It’s no mistake that you can see many of the grievances of the generation in these stories, screenplays and poems: a desire to be somewhere other than where we are and the utter need to travel. The familiar ‘Aussie-ness’ remains – from images of lovely inner-city Sydney, red soil and mining towns to just bloody honest narrators. Weaving among it, we find the true multicultural Australia – with childhoods in Singapore and cultural misunderstandings in Amsterdam. For any Sydney millennial, I recommend Helen Meany’s ‘The Ibis and the Real Estate Agent’ which forces us to empathise with two of our biggest hates. On the other end of the spectrum, the two-page ‘Home Labiaplasty for Teens’ by Jacqueline Baloch is a disturbing example of the unattainable expectations of young women. If you’re looking to dive in and out of Australian lives in 270 pages, this one’s for you.
The UTS Writers’ Anthology is one of Australia’s longest running university collections. Previous issues have helped launch the careers of numerous Australian authors, including Gillian Mears, Bernard Cohen, Jill Jones, MTC Cronin, David Astle and Arabella Edge.