This year's Australian Writers Week authors on their pick of the lit

We chat to Morris Gleitzman, Graeme Simsion and Julie Koh about their literary must-haves

Image: Morris Gleitzman via Facebook
If you had to live alone on a desert island with one book, which book would it be? Ahead of this year's Australian Writers Week, we spoke to authors Morris Gleitzman, Graeme Simsion and Julie Koh about their favourite Australian novels, literary heroes and desert island books.

For the full Australian Writers Week schedule, click here.
Morris Gleitzman

Morris Gleitzman

Author of Two Weeks with the Queen, Grace, Doubting Thomas, Bumface

Favourite Australian book
Currently my favourite Australian book is Home by Ben Quilty and Richard Flanagan. This remarkable artist and this equally remarkable writer travelled together to Syria and put together a compendium of drawings by Syrian children living with war. Fitting that I ended that last sentence with a tautology, because even for those of us who love words and are grateful for all they give us, it’s useful to be reminded that words are only human and sometimes should take a back seat. What better book to give us that reminder than this soul-wrenching collection of simple graphic truths about the most important things.

Desert island book
My desert island book is The Oxford English Dictionary (1989, 20 vols). It’s one of those titles you keep meaning to read, but in the hurly-burly of daily domestic life you just don’t seem to get around to it. I want to read it before I die, but can’t see it happening until I find myself stranded somewhere without Netflix.

Literary heroes
My literary heroes are the parents and other family members who know that each child only needs one sublime reading experience to become lifelong literary adventurers. Finding that first magic book can take a lot of time, a lot of discarded volumes and play havoc with domestic schedules, but what a result.

Catch Morris in conversation with fellow children's author Zhou Rui at AIOSpace on Mar 23 (2-4pm). 

Graeme Simsion

Graeme Simsion

Author of The Rosie Project, The Rosie Effect, The Best of Adam Sharp, Two Steps Forward

Favourite Australian book
The Rosie Project changed my life... but I guess you’d rather I looked a little wider. I really find the 'favourite' thing hard. I tend not to re-read books and my taste has changed so much over time, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of books that spoke to me at a younger age that I might no longer enjoy. I liked Tim Winton’s Dirt Music and gave it as a gift to overseas friends... but I feel uncomfortable bestowing ‘favourite Australian Book’ on it – sorry!

Desert island book
There’s a practical part of me that would choose a manual on desert-island survival, but the novelist in me thinks this could be a good time to tackle something substantial, like the Complete Works of Shakespeare. And then that practical side says 'Why not something in another language, which you'd inevitably master as you read?' I speak some French, so maybe Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. I got through the first volume, a long time ago, but not so long ago that I’ve forgotten the experience. Shakespeare.

Literary heroes
Well, I can call him a literary hero since he’s won the Nobel Prize for Literature now. Bob Dylan has long been a hero of mine, providing a model of a creative life with peaks, troughs, introspection and reinvention. My writing heroes have changed over a lifetime of reading, but I’ve always admired those who can tell a compelling story while examining profound issues. When I was 15, Albert Camus was the first of these – I've not re-read him. If you're going to have heroes it’s sometimes wise not to look too closely.

Catch Graeme at Joy City's One Way Street Bookstore on Mar 22 (7-9pm) and at Yanjiyou Bookstore on Mar 23 (3-4.30pm).

Julie Koh

Julie Koh

Author of Capital Misfits and Portable Curiosities 

Favourite Australian book
Tom Cho’s Look Who's Morphing is my favourite Australian book. It’s a wild and fantastic short-story collection that showed me new possibilities for Australian fiction.

Desert island book
The book I would take to a desert island is Bear Grylls' How to Stay Alive: The Ultimate Survival Guide for Any Situation. I haven’t read it but I’m in dire need of survival skills – natural selection should really have taken me long ago.

Literary heroes
I don’t idolise authors anymore but some of the writers who have influenced my work are Jonathan Swift, Haruki Murakami, Roald Dahl and Roberto Bolaño.

Catch Julie at The Bookworm on Mar 22 (8-10pm) and at Joy City's One Way Street Bookstore on Mar 24 (3-5pm).

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