Friday, May 23, 2014

The Memoir Club Presents: Saskia Beudel in conversation with Barbara Brooks

Tuesday, 27 May 2014, 6.00 - 9.00 PM

The Randwick Literary Institute,
60 Clovelly Road, Randwick 2031

Saskia Beudel’s A Country in Mind: Memoir With Landscape “intertwines genres of memoir, travel literature, historical and ecological writing in order to reveal the complex interplay between history, memory and landscapes”.—Autumn Royal, TEXT Review

After a period of loss, and much change, Saskia began walking. Within 18 months she had walked in the Snowy Mountains, twice along the south-west coast of Tasmania, the MacDonnell Ranges west of Alice Springs, the Arnhem Land plateau in Kakadu, the Wollemi National Park in New South Wales, and in Ladakh in the Himalayas. But she kept returning to the glowing ochre gorges of central Australia.

The book that emerged tells stories from Australia’s desert heart, examines the entanglement of Aboriginal and European cultures, remembers POW camps in Indonesia during World War II, and relives childhood epiphanies in a haunting collection of landscapes while tracing family secrets across the globe.

Saskia powerfully captures the enigmas of displacement, belonging and the intricacies, often strikingly at odds with one another, of Aboriginal and settler understandings of the desert environment in her book A Country in Mind, which will be discussed at the Memoir Club.

Saskia Beudel is the author of the novel Borrowed Eyes (Picador, 2002), which was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards for fiction and the Dobbie Awards for a first manuscript. She has published widely as an essayist, with works appearing in the Iowa Review, Best Australian Essays, HEAT, Overland and the Cultural Studies Review. Her second book, A Country in Mind, was published in 2013.

Barbara Brooks has published fiction, essays and a biography, Eleanor Dark: a writer’s life, and co-edited Mud Map: Australian women’s experimental writing. She teaches at UTS and Masterclasses (see

When: last Tuesday of every month (27 May, 24 June, 29 July etc.)

Time: 6.00 - 9.00 PM (come for a cuppa and help us set up at 5.30 PM - please remember to bring your own cup!)

Where: The Randwick Literary Institute, 60 Clovelly Road, Randwick 2031. Tel: 02-9398 5203 (for directions and venue info). Street parking available. Clovelly bus 339 on the doorstep. For how to get there, see:

What: A communal space to meet other writers and readers and converse about all things to do with reading and writing memoir. We are interested in all kinds of life stories and in different ways of telling them. The genre of life writing and the possibilities of expanding and reworking the genre is exciting to us. Therefore we have a somewhat open and inclusive approach to what makes a memoir, and we hope you do too! Here is a space to connect with others and share ideas, questions and just hang out. Each meeting will start off with a talk, conversation or discussion about a particular topic or book, sometimes with a guest speaker or facilitator, then we move to an informal gathering and catch up.

Donation: $10 at the door for hall hire, refreshments and speakers.

Food: $15 for a plate of delicious vegetarian finger food (different each meeting). Ring or text to book a plate: 0450 907 422.

Future Speakers: Michael Mohammed Ahmad (June), Mandy Sayer (July).

Look forward to seeing you there! Please do pass information on to anyone who might be interested in this community gathering.

mem·oir /ˈmemˌwär/
Noun. A historical account or biography written from personal knowledge. An autobiography or a written account of one's memory of certain events or people.

“How do people imagine the landscapes they find themselves in? How does the land shape the imaginations of the people who dwell in it?"—Barry Lopez

“The events I’m touching upon involve at least two sets of conflicting memories and histories. Because of this it is almost impossible for me to write redemptively of my father’s past, or to recuperate it in any simple way, especially writing from within a settler culture such as Australia’s, where the question of dispossession is still pressing and unsettling."—Saskia Beudel

“Before it can ever be a repose for the senses, landscape is the work of the mind. Its scenery is built up as much from strata of memory as from layers of rock."—Simon Schama