Fury by Kathryn Heyman

At a time when it often feels impossible to take a breather from the overwhelming injustices and inequalities that warrant outrage, you might hesitate to pick up a book called Fury. This memoir by prolific Australian writer Kathryn Heyman is an account of her traumatic sexual assault trial at the age of 20; the childhood of poverty and family violence that preceded it, and the reckless adventure that followed as a deckhand on a fishing trawler in the Timor Sea.

Heyman’s story is definitely a heavy one, but it never once drags the reader under. Instead, Fury vibrates with energy, remarkable physicality, clear-eyed rage and a clever, fierywit that frequently left me breathless. Heyman’s story is unputdownable, made even more compelling by her expert narrative structure and incredible control of language. While Fury spans over two decades of tough experiences, these fractured pieces of a life come together so powerfully; the effect is far greater than the sum of its parts. This is Heyman’s story, one that stands alongside the best adventure memoirs of women’s survival (such as Cheryl Strayed’s Wild or Robyn Davidson’s Tracks), but it also offers an original reflection on issues of class and the oppressions (both harrowing and ordinary) that girls face every day.

‘But I don’t have a machete, I don’t have a sword, I don’t have a knife. I just have words. Thousands and thousands of them, and each time I swing another one, now, decades after all of this, I feel my stomach tighten and the fear rise.’ As readers we are very lucky that Heyman has turned some of these words into this galvanising memoir. Fury is a thrilling and vital read, and its release couldn’t be more timely.

Stella Charls is a bookseller for readings Carlton.

Cover image for Fury


Kathryn Heyman

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