State of the (Writing) Nation: Maria Tumarkin
The State of the (Writing) Nation is an annual address from a prominent Australian writer. It's a chance to reflect on what's happening, and where we're heading, in Australian literature and publishing.
This year, Maria Tumarkin delivered the address. Tumarkin is the author of four books, including the multi-award-winning creative non-fiction work, Axiomatic, and is a recipient of the prestigious 2020 Windham Campbell Prize.
In her address, Tumarkin proposes ditching two widely used arguments for literature as a public good deserving of support: literature’s necessary for the health of the nation (1); and literature heightens empathy (2a) and makes us better people (2b). Why ditch these arguments? Because, Tumarkin will argue, they are dead ends. She outlines less anodyne, more urgent ways of speaking up for writers and readers in 2020.
Jean Bachoura, who was mentored by Tumarkin through the 2018 Next Chapter scheme, also delivers a short reading. Writers Victoria patron Christos Tsiolkas hosts the event.
Presented in partnership with Writers Victoria.
Maria Tumarkin writes books, essays, reviews, and pieces for performance and radio; she collaborates with sound and visual artists and has had her work carved into dockside tiles. She is the author of four books of ideas. Her fourth (and latest) book Axiomatic won the 2018 Melbourne Prize for Literature and was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award (US), the Stella Prize, and the Prime Minister’s, NSW and Victorian Premiers’ Awards. Axiomatic was named a New Yorker Top 10 Book of 2019.
Maria is a recipient of the 2020 Windham Campbell Prize in the category of nonfiction. She holds a PhD in cultural history and is a senior lecturer in the creative writing program at the University of Melbourne.
Jean Bachoura is an inaugural recipient of the Wheeler Centre’s scheme for writers, The Next Chapter. His work is reflective of a life lived between cultures: born in Damascus, raised in Syria, Lebanon and Australia. In 2016 he was awarded the Deborah Cass Prize for his piece 'Night Falls'. In 2017 he wrote 'No Man’s Land', an account of his journey crossing the border into Syria. In 2019, his multi-platform project TRETINOIN was awarded The Lifted Brow & RMIT non/fictionLab Prize for Experimental Non-fiction.
Christos Tsiolkas is the author of six novels, including Loaded, which was made into the feature film Head-On, The Jesus Man and Dead Europe, which won the 2006 Age Fiction Prize and the 2006 Melbourne Best Writing Award, as well as being made into a feature film. His fourth novel, the international bestseller The Slap, won Overall Best Book in the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2009, was shortlisted for the 2009 Miles Franklin Literary Award, longlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize and won the Australian Literary Society Gold, as well as the 2009 Australian Booksellers Association and Australian Book Industry Awards Books of the Year.