Lui Sit’s Mince on Toast was one of the twelve short stories long listed for the 2018 Life Writing Prize. Lui shares with us why she wrote it and what life writing means to her.
Life writing is a genre which allows me to communicate in the most familiar voice I know. Mine. Therefore it has an immediacy and accessibility not always present when I write in other forms. I also love reading the genre as I find people fascinating and I am extremely curious about the minutiae of day to day lives.
Mince on Toast is based upon my experiences of growing up in Australia in the late 70’s & 80s and what it was like to be the only Chinese kid in school. We were part of the first wave of East Asian immigrants allowed into the country after the White Australia Policy was dismantled which created an interesting and challenging social backdrop against which to grow up. I wrote this story because I can remember it so clearly and wanted to record parts of it while I still can!
In Chinese culture, sandwiches are the food of the devil. My mother was disgusted to discover this is what Australian school children ate for lunch.
‘That explains a lot,’ she declared. ‘Don’t worry. I will bring you proper food every day.’
To my mortification, she showed up at school at lunchtime with a thermos filled with steaming hot noodles or rice and meat. She stood over me, hawk-eyed until every last morsel had been duly consumed. My peers watched us from afar whilst tucking into their cheese, Vegemite or polony sandwiches. Mum would then would then stride off back home with the empty Thermos and I would be left with a full belly and rising shame.
Read all of the stories longlisted for the prize here.