Small Acts of Disappearance

Fiona Wright

Small Acts of Disappearance
  • Format
  • Publisher
  • Country
  • Published
  • Pages
  • ISBN

Small Acts of Disappearance

Fiona Wright

Small Acts of Disappearance is a collection of ten essays that describes the author’s affliction with an eating disorder which begins in high school, and escalates into life-threatening anorexia over the next ten years.

Fiona Wright is a highly regarded poet and critic, and her account of her illness is informed by a keen sense of its contradictions and deceptions, and by an awareness of the empowering effects of hunger, which is unsparing in its consideration of the author’s own actions and motivations. The essays offer perspectives on the eating disorder at different stages in Wright’s life, at university, where she finds herself in a radically different social world to the one she grew up in, in Sri Lanka as a fledgling journalist, in Germany as a young writer, in her hospital treatments back in Sydney.

They combine research, travel writing, memoir, and literary discussions of how writers like Christina Stead, Carmel Bird, Tim Winton, John Berryman and Louise Glück deal with anorexia and addiction; together with accounts of family life, and detailed and humorous views of hunger-induced situations of the kind that are so compelling in Wright’s poetry.


Small Acts of Disappearance is Fiona Wright’s memoir of her eating disorder. It’s structured as a series of ten essays, and from the very first lines of the opening chapter, I was captivated by Wright’s voice: ‘I’ll always remember the particular intensity that malnutrition brings on … that alertness of sensation, where every minute cell in the body is awake and alive to the smallest details of the outside world.’

Wright is an award-winning Australian poet, and her careful, skilful use of language is apparent on every page of this book. Her essays tell of being in and out of hospital, and of living in Sri Lanka, Berlin and Sydney. Underpinning every piece is a larger story of hunger: what it means to starve yourself, how it feels, and why you would do it: ‘Hunger is, I think, always an attempt to transcend the body, to become something other, something more.’

Throughout many of the essays, Wright returns to the idea of what it means to be someone with an eating disorder, and her reluctance to accept that identity for herself: ‘I thought that eating disorders only happen to women who are vain and selfish, shallow and somehow stupid; it took me years to realise the very opposite is true.’ Her reflections on how she came to slowly accept her illness are some of the strongest parts of the book, and her observations of those suffering alongside her are honest and moving.

In several of the essays, Wright turns to literature. She writes in detail about Christina Stead’s For Love Alone and Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet, two Australian novels that feature hungry young women, and she weaves the stories of the characters expertly around her own.

I loved this book. Wright is an exceptionally talented writer. Her work is full of empathy and it provides deep insight into an enormously complex disease.

Nina Kenwood is the digital marketing manager for Readings.

This item is in-stock and will ship in 1-2 business days

Our stock data is updated overnight, and availability may change throughout the day for in-demand items. Please call the relevant shop for the most current stock information. Prices are subject to change without notice.

Sign in or become a Readings Member to add this title to a wishlist.

A Few Days in the Country: And Other Stories

A Few Days in the Country: And Other Stories

Elizabeth Harrower

Internationally acclaimed for her five brilliant novels, Elizabeth Harrower is also the author of a small body of short fiction. A Few Days in the Country brings together for the first time her stories published in...

$22.99Buy now

Finding stock availability...

 Read reviewSmall Acts of Disappearance

Small Acts of Disappearance

Fiona Wright

Small Acts of Disappearance is a collection of ten essays that describes the authors affliction with an eating disorder which begins in high school, and escalates into life-threatening anorexia over the next ten years. Fiona...

$24.99Buy now

Finding stock availability...

 Special price Read reviewThe Natural Way of Things

The Natural Way of Things

Charlotte Wood

The Natural Way of Things is a fascinating and brilliant addition to Charlotte Wood's acclaimed fiction, thematically and stylistically quite a departure for her, but every inch as gripping, insightful and emotionally engaging as...

$24.95Buy now

Finding stock availability...

 Read reviewHope Farm

Hope Farm

Peggy Frew

'They were inescapable, the tensions of the adult world - the fraught and febrile aura that surrounded Ishtar and those in her orbit, that whined and creaked like a wire pulled too tight.'

$29.99Buy now

Finding stock availability...

 Special priceThe World Without Us

The World Without Us

Mireille Juchau

Told from the perspective of six, interconnected characters, The World Without Us is a tale of love in all its forms, a mystery and an elegy for a denatured landscape. It is about the ways we become lost to ourselves, and the...

$24.95Buy now

Finding stock availability...

 Special price Read reviewSix Bedrooms

Six Bedrooms

Tegan Bennett Daylight

Coming of age in the nineteen-eighties: hot afternoons on school ovals, the terrifying promise of losing your virginity. Sneaking booze from your mother's pantry, your first Mardi Gras parade, the painful sophistication and...

$24.95Buy now

Finding stock availability...