Welcome to the winter edition of Kill Your Darlings. And just as the dust begins to settle on the ruins of Borders and Angus & Roberston, another issue now rages in the Australian book world – that of the representation of women in writing, reviewing and publishing at large.
Sophie Cunningham, author, editor and former publisher, leads Issue 6 with an essay on the systematic under-representation of women in major literary awards and literary review pages. This is, of course, not a new debate, but it is a divisive one. In the United States, similar discussions have been f lowing thick and fast since late 2010. Such conversations both in print and online followed from VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts’ publication of damning profiles of inequitable gender representation in long-esteemed cultural publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books and The Atlantic.
Sophie’s essay is a call to Australian women writers to push themselves out of their comfort zones, as well as publishers to better market women’s fiction and literary editors to address the inequity in their books pages. Further to this approach, this essay has initiated the development of an Australian equivalent of the UK’s Orange Prize. A steering committee (made up of Sophie Cunningham, Kirsten Tranter, Monica Dux, Susan Johnson, Kerryn Goldsworthy, Christine Gordon, Louise Swinn, Aviva Tuffield, Jenny Niven, Jo Case and myself ) has been established and talks have commenced with potential sponsors.
In a similar vein, Jo Case’s commentary on ‘Australian Literature’ examines place and identity in award-winning Australian literary novels. She talks to inf luential writers, publishers and critics about that often frustrating definition of our national literature, and why it is in 2011 that our most ‘celebrated’ works remain largely located by the beach and in the bush.
Continuing a thread of activism is Gillian Terzis’s article on Anonymous, the online activist collective with the capacity to bring down servers around the world. In these Wikileaks days, such decentralised collectives are increasingly powerful. But are Anonymous genuine freedom fighters or serial pests?
Other commentary includes Elizabeth Bryer’s personal essay on her journey to becoming an interpreter, as well as cabaret and film star Paul Capsis’s memories of being bullied during high school, and how he overcame these traumatic experiences through discovering theatre.
Kill Your Darlings also chatted with American novelist and short story writer Ron Rash, whose latest collection of stories Burning Bright is published in Australia in August.
In Fiction, two new short stories talk to each other thematically. Helen Dinmore’s ‘The London Look’ and Penni Russen’s ‘Trick of the Light’ detail characters rebuilding their identities in new cities at a transitional period of their lives.
Mel Campbell reviews Misfits, the award-winning British television series, while Daniel Wood considers the legacy of American novelist David Foster Wallace. And Laurie Steed is in a bind: he’s an avid fan of the comedy-spy series Chuck, but objects to its transparent product placement and unenlightened representations of women.
We’d also like to introduce you to Guy Shield, the man responsible for this issue’s cover illustration. We like it so much we’ve asked Guy to continue our covers, so keep an eye out for his next creation in Issue 7 (October). We also farewell our editorial assistant Fionnuala Nugent, and welcome Bethanie Blanchard as our new Online Intern.