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Here’s a crazy thought. Could it be that whiteness, for David Malouf, is both blindingness and camouflage? That out of temperament, intuition, reflex, survival and ambition, he has suppressed his brownness—as his father suppressed his Arabic—in order to “pass” as white? This sounds preposterous, I know. And I’ll probably get in trouble for it. But the thought, once thought, is hard to unthink.

This is an extract from Writers on Writers: Nam Le on David Malouf. Published by Black Inc. in partnership with State Library Victoria and the University of Melbourne.