Life After Life is British author Kate Atkinson’s 8th novel. It’s about the many many lives of Ursula Todd, who is born many times on a winter’s night in England in 1910 and dies in many different ways – Spanish Flu, The London Blitz and various accidents. It’s all about the many twists and turns one person’s life can take and how that affects where we all end up, and at the same time illustrates what it was like to be a woman in 20th century England.
There is a whole lot of detail about day-to-day English life in the book, including some descriptions of awful-sounding food. I had fun asking Kate about that.
Kate came out to Sydney for the Sydney Writers’ Festival, and I caught up with her in her hotel lobby. I started off by asking how Kate came across the idea of telling a story through one individual’s many lives and deaths.
Harmless is the latest novella from Australian author Julienne van Loon, who was at the Sydney Writers’ festival to chat about novellas as a literary form. It’s a very layered, intricate book full of mysterious characters who embody the contradictions and complexities of modern suburban Australia, but it was actually inspired by a collection of ancient Buddhist stories called the Jataka.
The book follows eight year-old Amanda and elderly Thai man Rattuwat as they try to make their way to a prison to visit Amanda’s father.
I had a chat with Julienne about Harmless.
Julienne actually lives where her book is set – the outskirts of Perth. I started off by asking, “What was it about this landscape and the social milieu that inspired you?”