We thought we’d say goodbye to 2014 by making it easy for you to make some last-minute Christmas gift – and summer reading choices. Here are five of the handiest retrospectives on the best books of 2014, all of them Australian (and some of them by us).
We speak to Melbourne writer Harry Saddler about needing a day job that’s not challenging in order to write, why if you’ve been told not to do something in your writing, that’s exactly what you should do, and his dream date with Lizzie Bennett.
Maxine Beneba Clarke tells us about her Twitter initiative #writingwhilefemale – why she started it, why the conversation is important – and how it grew into a valuable catalogue of experiences. (And launched a companion thread, #menreadingwomen.)
Tony Birch reflects on why urgency (in our rhetoric, at least) is a counterproductive response to climate change. Instead, he argues, we need patience: ‘the only means by which change of substance will eventuate’.
Every year at this time, the Wheeler Centre staff share our favourite books of 2014. And look out for director Michael Williams' best books in a later instalment!
Read Richard Flanagan’s reasoning for donating his Prime Minister’s Prize for Fiction money ($40,000) to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Why was a fake Paris planned during World War II? Writer Jenny Diski on being taken in by Doris Lessing. President Obama writes a computer program. And Emily St John Mandel reflects on writers and their day jobs.
Morgan Carpenter, president of Organisation Intersex International Australia, outlines the human rights issues facing intersex people, in Australia and around the world. He also explains their mental health impact … and what we can do to help challenge the status quo.
Monica Weightman is a musician and Murri woman. She grew up in Townsville, influenced by her Islander father Ray but with the musical genes of her Scottish-English-Italian mother. Although she never really associated with the large Torres Strait Islander community in Townsville, she said she had more recently been seeking out more of the heritage that so clearly shaped her songs.
We talk to Lee Kofman, author of The Dangerous Bride, about writing in cafes, being told not to write in English because it’s her second language, and organising parties in night clubs to avoid writing.
Leah Kaminsky was recently the inaugural writer-in-residence at the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn, researching a book on death anxiety. She reports back (with pictures) on her unique writing residency.
Angela Savage was shocked when her daughter reacted to a card featuring two men kissing with disgust – despite knowing and accepting the family’s wide circle of gay and lesbian friends. Heterosexual affection is everywhere, but she’d never really witnessed same-sex affection. Angela decided to research how to normalise it in an age-appropriate way … and found it surprisingly difficult.
Ayelet Waldman has Twitter meltdown after not being included in the New York Times 100 notable books 2014. Stephen Hawking suggests artifical intelligence could end the human race. The case for and against Serial. Remembering Mr Squiggle. And the bad sex in fiction award goes off like a rocket …
We speak to Hot Desk Fellow Eli Glasman, author of The Boy’s Own Manual to Being a Proper Jew, about his love of Q&As, the fact that people find him funny (even though he sees himself as an intensely serious person), and why beefing up the word count makes for boring reading.
Meaghan Bell’s Future Summer is a series of poems investigating the apocalyptic outcomes of global warming and climate change. The aim is to develop a series of 13 poems which will then be made into a chap-book. While there are many depressing visions of a dystopian future, this series reflects possible utopian visions, which engenders hope and a desire to act.
Kieran Stevenson’s The Johnston Tradition is a novel that follows Padraig Johnston, a young man who has fallen into a life of alcoholic isolation since the suicide of his father when he was 19. Here’s an extract from the novel, in our latest Wheeler Centre Hot Desk extracts.
Ender Baskan’s Welcome Home is a memoir about growing up in today’s Australia, and his journey to Turkey, as the only child of Turkish migrants, ‘to try to explain myself to myself’. It’s part travel story, part meditation on migrant life.
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