By Foong Ling Kong
When events in life take a turn for the absurd, I often summon Elisabeth Wynhausen to mind and wonder what she would say and do. For instance, when Australia changed Prime Ministers for the third time in the five years since her death, with the Liberal Party recently installing Scott Morrison, more than anyone I wished she were still around to give her take on it.
By Nicola Heath
Once upon a time, in a bright blue house near Mexico City, lived a small girl named Frida. She would grow up to be one of the most famous painters of the twentieth century…
In 2016, journalist Elena Favilli and playwright Francesca Cavallo, two Italians living in the United States, raised almost AU$1 million via Kickstarter to fund a new project they dreamed up in response to the endemic sexism they encountered in Silicon Valley.
The couple, who in 2012 founded a children’s media company called Timbuktu Labs, wanted to create a story book for children that offered an alternative to the traditional fairy tale narrative.
The result was Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, a collection of 100 tales of extraordinary women, from nineteenth century mathematician Ada Lovelace and Sudanese supermodel Alek Wek to Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini and Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid. It’s a book where primatologists, pirates and politicians reign supreme over princesses.
By Alexandra O’Sullivan
In being given the task of writing a review of Meera Atkinson’s Traumata, an exploration of trauma and its long-lasting effects, I find my thoughts reflected by Atkinson herself on the second page:
I understand you want to know what kind of book this will be and whether you can count on me. I’m thinking about how to respond.
Panic creeps into the spaces around my scribbled notes. I don’t know if I can do this book justice. I don’t know if you can count on me.
By Karys McEwen
A few years ago, I was working as the librarian at a private girls’ school in Melbourne. During Book Week, YA author Fiona Wood gave a presentation at the school assembly. Towards the end of her speech, she asked the audience of young girls and their teachers who among them considered themselves a feminist. A meagre scattering of hands appeared. Wood looked out in disbelief and asked again. This time a couple more hands crept up, the confessors shyly looking around at their peers. In total, no more than 15 feminists among a sea of 500. In my front row seat, I felt nauseous. As the librarian, I considered fostering equality as part of my role, whether through promoting books with a positive message, or providing a safe space for progressive ideas to flourish. Had I been doing enough?
By Sonia Nair
In classic philosophy, an axiom is seen as a statement that is so obvious or well-established it’s routinely accepted without controversy or question. But in modern logic, an axiom is simply a premise or starting point for reasoning.
With her structurally impressive fourth nonfiction work – which tackles familiar themes from the physical and emotional significance of places that have withstood significant trauma, to the shifting conceptions of home, identity and belonging – Maria Tumarkin both demolishes this first definition and underscores the second. Blurring the lines between memoir, essay and reportage, the book’s chapters unspool from Tumarkin’s encounters with certain people, to encapsulate that ‘nothing is more human than the experience of feeling trapped’.
By Carly Findlay
Photo: Camille Condon
Around a year ago, I got a book deal to write a memoir. Due out early next year, Say Hello will tell my story of life with the rare, severe skin condition ichthyosis. Writing this book has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but not just because of the length or the subject matter. It’s because in the process of writing this book, my disability activism has been questioned.
By Nayuka Gorrie
Black Australia is a patchwork – there is no homogenous black culture or experience. Adequately capturing the essence of hundreds of nations is no easy feat, but Anita Heiss has pulled together an incredible bunch of voices that reflect the humour, intelligence, strength and diversity of Aboriginal people in Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia.
It’s no industry secret that readers are largely white women – the white gaze is often unavoidable. But this book wasn’t created for white dinner party fodder; it is concerned with telling the truth or many truths with nuance.