Claudia Karvan explores ‘The Books That Made Us’

Claudia Karvan

Books That Made Us, a new three part series that starts on the ABC on Monday 23rd November explores Australian novels and writers.

Actor Claudia Karvan hosts the series and traverses this wide brown land meeting writers and discussing their work. The question on her lips, which Australian books can tell us about ourselves.

One of the first authors she sits down with is Christos Tsiolkas, and Karvan confesses she never finished his famous novel The Slap, frustrated with the unlikeable characters she threw the book across the room and never picked it up again.

A discussion with Tsiolkas kicks off a journey through themes and locations taking in Sophie Laguna’s novel The Choke, Peter Carey’s True History of The Kelly Gang, and Nino Culotta’s They’re a Weird Mob.

Authors Richard Flanagan, Helen Garner, Tim Winton, David Malouf, Kate Grenville, Alexis Wright, Thomas Keneally, Liane Moriarty, Trent Dalton, Kim Scott, Melissa Lucashenko, Tara June Winch and Kathy Lette are just some of the writers explored across the series.

The series explores how Australians have been represented in literature, juxtaposing books written in different times, exploring different generations, new immigrants, and then first generation Australians through books like Michael Mohammed Ahmad’s The Lebs.

Indigenous storytellers being embraced by the publishing world and being given a space to create new stories is another focus of the first episode.

Craig Silvey’s Honeybee is also discussed at length, with local identities Alyce Schotte and John Hugo, aka drag star Skyscrapper, sharing how Silvey worked with them to tell an authentic story about gender identity.

While the first episode focuses on people, the follow up episodes are built around the themes of place and power.

The whirlwind series introduces us to the writers behind many famous books, sharing their motivations, fears and experiences. During the series Karvan notes that many people struggle to leave a book shop without buying a book, this is a series that will make you write a list of books to pick up next time.

Books That Made Us airs on ABCTV from 8:30pm on Tuesday 23rd November, and can also be seen on iView.

Graeme Watson

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