What We're Reading / September 2021

Take a look at the great things we’ve read in September — Ginger Gorman’s investigation into internet trolls, an essay by Amy Duong, a heartbreaking memoir by Amani Haydar and Tilly Lawless’ debut novel!

Troll Hunting by Ginger Gorman

Jane McCredie, CEO

Ginger Gorman’s Troll Hunting delves deep into the world of internet trolls. Gorman is a journalist who was drawn to try to understand the motivations of trolls after being targeted herself. The book brings a surprising empathy and kindness to its often confronting subject matter. Gorman creates an almost friendship with one troll, staying online to help him through a crisis brought on by medication withdrawal and loneliness. That said, she doesn’t go easy on the trolls and the portrait she paints of them is far from flattering. The trolls emerge as damaged, but also damaging, humans. The book advocates powerfully for safer online spaces, particularly for those targeted because of their gender or other identities. It’s a compelling read.

The red plastic chair is a Vietnamese cultural institution, and my anchor by Amy Duong for SBS Voices 

Martyn Reyes, Project and Communications Officer

I haven’t really stopped thinking about Amy Duong’s essay since I finished reading it. It is a beautiful, sensitive and well-observed piece of writing that examines a mundane, yet significant cultural object to discuss threads of tradition, family, death, mourning, community and diaspora. Like most of my favourite personal essays penned by people of colour, Duong writes beyond the overly simplistic tropes and cliches that often trap us when discussing race and culture. Her writing is specific, multidimensional and meaningful. I can see why it earned her entry a highly commended spot for the SBS Voices’ Emerging Writers Competition in 2020.

The Mother Wound by Amani Haydar

Nikole Evans, Administration Officer

The Mother Wound was such a joy to read. At times I smiled and, through much of the heartbreaking story, I cried. This is a powerful memoir that will leave you seething with rage at the injustices of this world, but ultimately glows with resilience and hope for the future. With the true expertise of a gifted storyteller, Amani Haydar gives us a glimpse into her history and her trauma, her mother wound.

As readers, I don’t think we always appreciate how hard a story such as hers must be to put in writing and send out into the world, or the emotional and mental labour that goes into the pages. I have learned so much from reading this book and so much of it resonates with me as a woman. This wasn’t an easy read but it was a rewarding one. At a time in our lives when domestic violence is on the rise, this is a memoir that everyone should read because it affects all of us as a society.

Read the blurb here.

Nothing But My Body by Tilly Lawless

Amy Lovat, Program Officer

I’ve just finished reading Nothing But My Body by Tilly Lawless, and it absolutely blew me away. The book is written in stream-of-consciousness prose that is incredibly lyrical, poetic and punchy. Sometimes it’s slow and meandering, other times it’s fast-paced and frenetic. The anonymous narrator, a queer female Australian sex worker, navigates a year of her life through Sydney, Bellingen and Berlin, but the story is broken up into eight days. We follow her through break-ups and falling into infatuation via Instagram, through the bushfires and the beginnings of COVID, through Mardi Gras and the plight of First Nations people. The backdrop of the story is sex work: the people she meets, the friendships she forms, the monotony and euphoria and uncertainty of the industry in these weird pandemic times. 

But overall, this book is a celebration of the queer community and the narrator’s reckoning with her body, her privilege and her femaleness. I haven’t read a voice as unique as this in a while – intelligent, poetic, political, vulnerable. Highly recommend!


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