Josephine Wilson: books that changed me

Josephine Wilson is a writer and academic, and a board member of the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. Her second novel Extinctions (UWA Publishing), about a retired engineer who has to sort through the secrets and debris of his life, won the Dorothy Hewett Award in 2015.

Sentimental Education
Gustave Flaubert

The Revolution over, dreamer Frédéric Moreau travels the world and returns home, having learnt nothing. As a student I wrote a bad essay on Sentimental Education and free indirect discourse, a mode of manipulating narration and point of view to bring together both the third-person narrator and the first-person character. I understood this technique as the pathway to dramatic irony, and I have loved it ever since.

The Moro Affair
Leonardo Sciascia

In 1978 Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro was en route to the swearing in of a new Italian government, formed by a historic compromise between his party and the Communist Party, when he was kidnapped by the Red Brigade. His body was found in the back of a car 55 days later. Sciascia’s devastating account is achieved through an assemblage of articles and documents, including letters by Moro, written during his captivity. Masterful and terrifying non-fiction.

My Place
Sally Morgan

Sally Morgan’s autobiography was published in 1987, the year of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. My mother was born in 1921 and was raised in a less than tolerant Rockhampton. She left school young, a self-made woman and a great reader of books that spoke to her. My Place was one of those books – profound and funny and sad. She read this hugely popular book many times because she said it made her think. I have her copy now, with her name written inside.

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia
Mohsin Hamid

Hamid uses the form of a self-help book to explore the complexity of identity, belonging and desire. Like Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Hamid’s novel manages to be almost located, but not quite. The book is set in a globalised city that could be Karachi, but could be many other places in South Asia. This extraordinarily moving work shifts social strata and time and demonstrates what literature should be in an era of trauma and globalisation.

The story Josephine Wilson: books that changed me first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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