Books and Ideas at Montalto
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Since his 2009 debut, Things We Didn’t See Coming, Steven Amsterdam has established himself as a writer who startles and surprises.
His first book – an apocalyptic work fusing literary and climate-change fiction – earned him comparisons to Cormac McCarthy. His follow-up book, What the Family Needed, also frustrated conventions of form and genre, but diverged dramatically from its precursor on subject matter: from ecological disaster to family dynamics. Amsterdam is an author with an unusual combination of qualities. His writing is warm, playful … and ominous.
Perhaps this is partly because Amsterdam moves between parallel lives. Aside from writing, he works in an entirely different field – as a palliative care nurse. His new novel, The Easy Way Out, draws heavily from this line of work, tackling the big subjects: death, personal morality and assisted suicide.
This singular writer joins his former publisher, Louise Swinn, for a discussion about double lives, family dynamics and matters of life and death.
Books and Ideas at Montalto series sound design and music: Jon Tjhia.
Steven Amsterdam is the award-winning author of Things We Didn't See Coming (winner of the Age Book of the Year, shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Award for Fiction and longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award) and What the Family Needed (Australian Women's Weekly Great Read and longlisted for the Dublin IMPAC literary award). He lives in Melbourne, where he works as a palliative care nurse, with his partner.
Louise Swinn is a writer, publisher, critic, literary event chair and the editor of Choice Words: A Collection of Writing About Abortion (Allen and Unwin, 2019). Her work appears regularly in the Age, the Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald. She was one of the founders of Sleepers Publishing, the Small Press Network and the Stella Prize.