Kung Hei Fat Choy to all my Hong Kong friends and may the Year of the Goat be good to you. From a personal perspective, the Year of the Horse departed with a couple of well-aimed kicks – and so far this Chinese New Year has been balanced between the good and the not so. I think they call it life.
I have, however, escaped into a fabulous read-fest over the last couple of months. From several outstanding books, one of my favourites was Pryar Parmar’s Vanessa and her Sister – a well-researched, well-written historical novel – more about Vanessa than Virginia, but showing Virginia from a somewhat different angle than usual – that sits well alongside Victoria Glendinning’s biographical Woolf. The other is John Boyne’s A History of Loneliness – as haunting and unflinching a window into the Catholic Church as his The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas offers into the friendship between the son of a German commandant and the Jewish boy during World War II. Others include The Miniaturist and Golden Boys. Has anyone read these? And what do you think?
Perth Writers’ Festival has come and gone, from all accounts more successful than ever before. Of the talks I attended, the discussion on making the move from non-fiction writing to fiction –between John Lanchester and Hugh Mackay chaired by Griffith Review founder Juliana Shultz — was a stand-out. Well-balanced, funny and informative.
My literary table
Listening to witty writers always awakens a fantasy of mine: my ‘literary table’ where I ask my choice of wits and writers to our house for dinner. I can only go by those I have heard publicly speaking or presenting, of course, but if I could pick only six I’d extend invitations to my literary heros Alex Miller and Hilary Mantel, the thinker and writer Robert Dessaix, John Lanchester (his Fragrant Harbour brought Hong Kong to my front door), writer and hilariously funny UK rare book dealer Rick Gekoski – and of course my sister Toni, who should have been an actress, and who will keep us all spaced out with her sense of frivolity and fun. Enjoying it in spirit, hovering above the table, and causing the odd dropped knife or spoon would be my grandfather Isidore Kozminsky. What menu would Richard and I serve up to such a group, I wonder? Spice? Steak? Sweets? Aussie barbie? And what would we talk about? Books, books or books? One thing’s for sure, there would be a riot of stories — and a feast for all the senses.
Out of Place
Meanwhile Out of Place has been on the shelves for a couple of months now and is moving steadily. Reviews and feedback are just starting to trickle in – with my warmest thanks to those of you who have taken the time and trouble to comment or email.
My good wishes to all – happy reading and writing.
Lunar New Year photo: PatriciaSoon iStock.