We need to talk about Lionel… a lot less

Leila, Melbourne gal and feminist, guest writes for Words and Leaves about hearing two very different women speak at the Melbourne Writers Festival – Lionel Shriver and Juliet Jacques – and how, respectively, they angered and inspired her.

Initially when I planned this review, I was going to write about how the authors I’d heard at the Melbourne Writers Festival – Magda Szubanski (Reckoning: A Memoir), Charlotte Wood (The Natural Way of Things), Yassmin Abdel-Magied (Yassmin’s Story) – all meditated on how reading and writing illuminates the human condition and helps us to know ourselves better. I was also going to write about how authors and readers can grow to love (or hate) the characters in the best books with as much passion as if they were real people. And how our favourite books are far more than just stories, instead becoming real experiences that enter into our memories and really change us.

I was going to write about all those things. And then I saw Lionel Shriver give her closing address.

Shriver described her views as ‘incendiary’. I prefer to describe them as ‘infuriating’.

Australia’s asylum shame

A year ago, I moved back to Australia after 10 years in Scotland.  Over these last 12 months, I’ve been relearning what it is to be Australian – not in the cliched sense, but in terms of the nuances of daily life that I’d just clean forgotten about (such aggressive driving, for example) or never even known about (the oddities of school drop offs).

But more than anything, I’ve had to confront and compute my country’s attitudes to its indigenous people and its asylum seekers. I feel like I’m seeing these issues with fresh eyes, and I really don’t like what I see.

The Dry: A scorching Aussie thriller

I’ve just finished reading what I reckon will be one of my top books of the year, The Dry by Jane Harper.  Within minutes of starting this book I knew I was in safe hands, and right to the very end I couldn’t put this book down.  It’s the kind of book that makes you miss your train stop; it’s an engrossing and very satisfying read.

This is why we need women only book prizes…

Hands up those who get sick of explaining why we still need feminism? 664392

It doesn’t seem to matter what statistics say about the gender pay gap, occupational segregation, family violence, women in leadership, poverty, misogyny in mainstream and social media etcetera – some remain unconvinced.

Hands up those who get sick of explaining why we still need women only book prizes?  

The Man Booker and the Not the Booker Prize 2016

Today the Man Booker Prize announced its longlist of 13 books, which you can find here.

website

I’ve not read any of the books on this year’s longlist, so can’t offer any comment on their relative merit.  But I did immediately notice the absence of Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things, which made me sad.

However, I have a means to remedy this! The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize 2016 gives us all a chance to champion our own favourite book of the year.

8 things I learned at the Melbourne Writers Festival

I’ve always loved the beginning of spring, but I’ve discovered another reason to love it: the Melbourne Writers Festival.  For the last two weeks, Melbourne has been host to an overwhelming number of writers, thinkers and readers.

I only got to see a sliver of what was on offer, but here are 8 things that have stuck in my brain.

Two bee books in two weeks: The World Without Us and The Bees

Queen Bee.  Bee in your bonnet. Busy as a bee. The bees’ knees. The birds and the bees. Like bees to a honey pot. I only recently realised how many idioms, metaphors and symbols about bees we’ve adopted into the English language.  This realisation came when quite by accident in the space of a fortnight, I read two bee-themed books back-to-back:  The World Without Us by Mireille Juchau and The Bees by Laline Paull.