Canberra photographer Marina McDonald has a knack for focusing on the positives. After fighting breast…
Welcome to a monthly update for readers, writers and literary lovers.
Expect a celebration of local Canberra talent, plenty of reading recommendations, and a roundup of events and opportunities.
I picked this book up a couple of weeks ago on a spontaneous visit to the Curatoreum at the National Portrait Gallery. We had to remove this post is Dutch author Hanna Bervoets’ seventh novel and her first translated into English. In this dark, subtle story we follow Kayleigh into a new job as a content moderator for a social media company she is contractually obliged not to name. What unfolds is an examination of the forces that shape our worldview and the work cultures that uphold them. Less its characters but more its ideas, this book has definitely stuck with me.
We had to remove this post by Hanna Bervoets, translation by Emma Rault | Published May 2022 Pan Macmillan
We Play Ourselves follows queer playwright Cass who, after winning a prestigious prize, finds herself in the midst of scandal, a sudden move and a whole lot of young people. I am currently working on my second novel and I have been thinking a lot about the process of making art, something this book puts into words incredibly well. I have also found it refreshing to read about artistic envy, in particular processing the success of others in your discipline when you yourself are failing. This book is fun, smart and super readable.
We Play Ourselves by Jen Silverman | Published February 2021 Atlantic
About to read
Last month I attended the launch of local author Nigel Featherstone’s new book My heart is a Little Wild Thing. It was amazing to see such support for the author on the day and to hear Nigel speak about the process of writing this tender story about love, place, family and the tension between the obligations we have to others and to ourselves. During his talk Nigel said that his favourite things are reading, writing and being gay, all of which have been channeled into this beautiful book. I can’t wait to dive in.
My Heart is a Little Wild Thing by Nigel Feathertone | Published May 2022 Ultimo
This month I am highlighting the entire incredible shortlist of Canberra region authors being recognised in the upcoming ACT Notable Awards. Books have been shortlisted across fiction, non-fiction, poetry and children’s, from both small and large publishers. Winners in each category for both 2020 and 2021 will be announced on Friday 30th July, 2022.
This month my partner, a poet and librarian, has selected a book of poetry by Canberra region authors Melinda Smith and Caren Florence. Listen, Bitch uses a practice of found text to create new poems that explore misogynist language. By drawing on decades of statements made by powerful Australian male public figures, the resulting poems examine the way women and their actions are perceived in our society and to what cost.
Listen, Bitch by Melinda Smith & Caren Florance | Published October 2019 Recent Work Press
Events, workshops and opportunities
- The Canberra Writers Festival returns in 2022 with a full line up of live, in-person events from Wednesday 10 August through to Sunday 14 August. I’ve bought tickets to a number of sessions including Chinese-ish, a literary lunch with Rosheen Kaul and Johanna Hu moderated by Joanna Savill, Catch me if you can a conversation with Sandi Logan, Shelley Burr and Jack Heath moderated by Tim Ayliffe and How to end a story with Helen Garner.
Check out the full program | Book here
- In the upcoming event, Deadly Dialogues, First Nation’s theatre director Rachael Maza AM shares her journey with Rhianna Patrick. This is a free conversation that can be attended in person at the National Library of Australia or watched via livestream on the National Library of Australia Facebook page.
Monday 8 August, 6 pm-7 pm. This is a free event | Register here
- Acclaimed author Kathryn Heyman, founder of the Australian Writers Mentoring Program, has once more partnered with publisher Catherine Milne of HarperCollins to offer the 2022 Kathryn Heyman Mentorship Award for a writer from a background of social and economic disadvantage.
Applications close 20 September 2022 | Find out more
I have two podcasts to recommend this month, both coincidentally British.
- Unreal: A critical history of reality TV – in this limited series journalists Pandora Sykes and Sirin Kale explore the world of reality TV and how it both shapes and mirrors our lives. Particularly interesting are their consideration of ethics and mental health.
- Brown Girls Do it Too – in this award-winning podcast series British Asian babes Poppy and Rubina (plus guests) get explicit about sex. Now in its third season, this podcast dives deep on big issues while remaining delightfully sassy.