Book recommendations from the EWF programming team

Though the team at Emerging Writers’ Festival (running 16-26 June) have been busy moving their program online, they’ve still made time to immerse themselves in the words of many wonderful authors and creators this month. Take a peek below to see which titles are top of their TBR lists.


Ruby-Rose Pivet-Marsh, Artistic Director

I often read more than one thing at a time. Recently, both Body of Work by Elena Gomez and Whisper Songs by Tony Birch, which are two poetry collections from wonderful #EWF21 Ambassadors. I found them wonderful to read side-by-side and to shake off the cobwebs of my reading habits. Poetry always seems to do the trick. Sam van Zweden’s Eating with My Mouth Open was so nourishing to read. I have underlined so many sections of this beautiful book and felt so many things reading and re-reading it.

My current reads are… varied. Lots of nonfiction, poetry and collections. I started reading Animorphs as a joke, but then I remembered that YA is a good, fun way to wind down. My only reading goal for the year is to get through the entire series. However, there are 54 books and I’ve only just started the second…

Kink features some of my favourite writers. I think writing about sex and physical connections is something that doesn’t often get the props it deserves. This is something I have been reminded of while working through this collection and indeed, while programming our queer erotica reading event, #NSFW.

Elena Gomez and Tony Birch are both part of the National Writers’ Conference, including 4 x 4 Rules for Writing, held online on Saturday 19 June, 9.45-10.45am. Sam van Zweden is hosting two events – A Meal at the Table Sunday 20 June, 6-7pm, and A Body of Writing, Thursday 24 June, 6.30-8.30pm.


Millie Baylis, Programming Coordinator

One of the best things about being a literary programmer is getting to read debut books by local writers and (sort of) call it work. Veronica Gorrie’s Black and Blue was one of EWF’s most anticipated books for the year. It’s a beautiful, painful memoir about Gorrie’s life growing up and working in a racist police force – before coming to believe in prison abolition. Gorrie is forthright and funny, and always tries to care for her reader, even when writing about brutal subjects like police brutality, settler-colonial violence and family trauma. It’s a huge-hearted, no-bullshit book.

The other debuts I have on my desk at the moment are Evelyn Araluen’s Dropbear – a steadfast, lyrical collection of poems and prose that cheekily and blisteringly critiques Australiana kitsch and tropes, and Fiona Murphy’s The Shape of Sound – an eloquent, elegant book about Deafness, disability and secrets.

Further away, after witnessing the hype from every queer person online, I really enjoyed Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters. It’s a dishy, smart, unsentimental book about womanhood, transness, motherhood and sex. I loved its lucid and sardonic observations as much as its small, profound moments about what it means to fear and to desire.

Veronica Gorrie, Evelyn Araluen and Fiona Murphy are all #EWF21 artists, appearing at a number of events. Veronica Gorrie and Fiona Murphy are both appearing in Masterclass: Creative Nonfiction,Tuesday 22 June, 10am-4pm. Veronica Gorrie will also be performing at Opening Night: Collective Imaginings, Wednesday 16 June, 7-10pm, and First Stage (currently sold out). Evelyn Araluen appears at Writing for Change, Saturday 19 June, 4.15-5.15pm, Closing Night: Be Kind, Rewind, Saturday 26 June, 7pm-late, and is hosting a Writers’ Night School (currently sold out).


Catherine Huang, Marketing and Publicity Coordinator

I recently finished Cherry Beach by Laura McPhee-Browne. It was a bit of a tortured read, in so much as that it brought back painful memories of my times living overseas and the struggles and troubles I encountered, but the writing was so incredibly beautiful. Cherry Beach managed to perfectly encapsulate my own experiences of feeling listless and lost in a place I never managed to call home, and for that I am in awe.

I’m now between both of Jamie Marina Lau’s novels, Pink Mountain on Locust Island, and Gunk Baby, which have been super enjoyable reads. I’ve never been very good at crafting stories, and the stories and worlds that Lau has created in her novels are delightful.

Laura McPhee-Browne and Jamie Marina Lau are both appearing as part of the online Lunchtime Literature series. Laura McPhee-Browne hosts Writing With Relationships on Tuesday 22 June, from 12.30-1.30pm, and Jamie Marine Lau appears at Writing Across Genre, on Thursday 24 June, 12.30-1.30pm.


Diem Nguyen, Associate Producer

Whenever I feel a bit anxious my skincare routine gets a few extra steps added to it. Lately I’ve been flicking through Let’s Face It because I find the way Rio Viera-Newton writes about skincare very accessible. It’s a great guide for skincare fans of all stripes, and the charming infographics and illustrations make reading all about complicated sounding ingredients, like galactomyces ferment filtrate, a fun experience.

I’ve just started New Animal for some fiction and I’m already so obsessed with it. I’m struck by how Ella Baxter writes about death and grief with such humour and heart. This is a story I’d like to take my time with to savour each sentence. Every word is the right one and exactly where it should be.

Ella Baxter is hosting The Early Words on Tuesday 22 June, from 8.30-9.30am.


The Emerging Writers’ Festival is one of Australia’s most established and well-respected literary festivals. EWF 2021, an innovative eleven-day, on-line program will take place from 16 – 26 June via the EWF website.

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New Animal

New Animal

Ella Baxter

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