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Hannah Kent: My favourite Aussie read

One of my favourite Australian authors is Charlotte Wood. I remember reading her first novel, Pieces of a Girl, when I was in my first year of university after finding it in my local second-hand bookshop. I thought it moody and atmospheric, and there was something else, a playful quality to the writing, that made me immediately seek out her second novel, published that same year. The Submerged Cathedral, a story of love and love’s rupture, faith and doubt, confirmed to me Wood’s remarkable talent and marked the beginning of my deep and ongoing admiration for her work.

In the sixteen years since reading those first early novels, I have bought and read everything Wood has written. Again and again, I have been drawn in by her way with language; she writes in a style that is clean and spare, yet deeply powerful. Her prose is filled with observations so acute, so familiar and shocking and truthful, that I find myself reeling in the wake of her books. Whether she is exploring the familial friction between siblings (The Children, Animal People), or the subtle ways we can be both wounded and mended by friendship (The Weekend), Wood is unswervingly accurate in her depiction of the vicissitudes of human connection and disconnection. Her eye and pen are unfailingly sharp. She is often funny. She is always surprising.

Charlotte Wood is also a generous writer. Not only do I hold her work in high esteem, I also hold an enormous amount of respect for the curiosity she, as an artist, publicly shows for and invests in creative practice, both her own and that of others. Her most recent published work The Luminous Solution, is a collection of essays that summarise and explore what is means to create, and in it, Wood shares many insights she has gleaned from years of speaking with other writers and artists. It is a helpful, hopeful book, and a testament to the honesty and inquisitiveness Wood brings to everything she writes.