The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen by Krissy Kneen

Much loved and admired author Krissy Kneen is back with another heartfelt exploration of her personal history, but because this is a Krissy Kneen book, we are taken on a greater journey than just her own. This book is an account of women’s lives – how those lives are changed and shaped into personal stories of parenting, friendships and legacy. In her earlier memoir, Affection, we met Kneen’s family, including the towering matriarchal figure of her grandmother, Dragica (Lotty) Kneen, who cast long shadows on Kneen’s own life. Lotty arrived as a migrant in Australia having escaped war. She was an extraordinarily gifted storyteller with a persistent and intense spirit that made her wonderfully suited for a creative life. She did not disclose much of her past to her family, but she did gift Kneen with her fortitude and a love of fairytales.

Kneen’s 2015 poetry collection, Eating My Grandmother, was a grief-stricken ode to her grandmother after her death. Now, this compelling and beautifully written memoir is the next chapter, formed as a deeply personal travel memoir with the obligatory photos included. Armed with her grandmother’s ashes, Kneen and her partner Anthony visitSlovenia and Egypt, the countries her grandmother lived in before she ended up in the middle of Queensland, surrounded by handmade cardboard characters from the stories she told Kneen as a child. A road map filled with many women’s voices, recipes and memories, this memoir is the evidence of Lotty’s life and legacy.

Already lauded as Kneen’s best writing yet, The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen is a portrait of resilience. Read this book because all our stories started with our mothers and our mother’s mothers. Read it because Kneen’s journey to understand her past is, in the end, universal.

Chris Gordon is the programming and events manager for Readings.