UNSWriting: The New Essay: Illness, Place and Reinvention

When:16 Jul 2019, 6:30pm - 8pm
Venue:Io Myers Studio, UNSW Kensington Campus
Who:Fiona Wright and Jessica Friedmann in conversation with Roanna Gonsalves

Fiona wright Jessica friedmann

The New Essay: Illness, Place and Reinvention

Presented by UNSWriting

Fiona Wright and Jessica Friedmann are two of our most celebrated new wave essayists. Their work fuses traditional aspects of memoir with critical investigations associated with the essay. In their books, they explore the experience of illness, recovery, the meaning of making art, and the feeling of foreignness associated with one’s own body.

Wright’s collection of essays Small Acts of Disappearance is a compelling account of her experience of living with an eating disorder that escalates to life-threatening anorexia. Her writing is a combination of memoir and literary observations; detailed, humorous and hauntingly honest. Similarly in Things That Helped, Friedmann navigates us as readers through the experience of post-partum depression after the birth of her son. Powerful and moving, her writing touches on race, gender and sexuality as well as motherhood and depression.

This talk will explore the common themes in their writing and ask how Wright and Friedmann are reinventing these nonfictional forms. In what ways is contemporary memoir evolving? And how does the writing of memoir result in a new kind of essay?

Fiona Wright and Jessica Friedmann will be in conversation with Roanna Gonsalves in this UNSWriting event. 



Fiona Wright is a writer, editor and critic from Sydney. Her book of essays Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger won the 2016 Nita B. Kibble Award and the Queensland Literary Award for non-fiction, and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize and the NSW Premier’s Douglas Stewart Award. Her first poetry collection, Knuckled, won the 2012 Dame Mary Gilmore Award, while Domestic Interior was shortlisted for the 2018 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry. Her most recent book of essays, The World Was Whole, was longlisted for the 2019 Stella Prize.


friedmannJessica Friedmann is a Canberra-based writer and editor. Her essays and other non-fiction have appeared widely, both in Australia and internationally. Things That Helped is her first published collection.




roanna 2Dr. Roanna Gonsalves is the author of The Permanent Resident (UWAP) which won the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Multicultural Prize 2018, and was longlisted for the Dobbie Literary Award. It is published in India as Sunita De Souza Goes To Sydney (Speaking Tiger). Her work has been compared to the work of Alice Munro and Jhumpa Lahiri. Roanna’s four-part radio series, On the tip of a billion tongues (Earshot, ABC RN) is an exploration of contemporary India through its multilingual literature. Roanna is a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Endeavour Award. See more at https://roannagonsalves.com.au

Book Now

TICKETS: $10 Full Price and $5 Concession. Your ticket comes with one free drink at the Io Myers Foyer Bar. 

Book Now

UNSW Bookshop

Fiona Wright, Jessica Friedmann and Roanna Gonsalves' books will be available at 10% off the RRP courtesy of the UNSW Bookshop on the night.


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Finding us

Io Myers Studio is located through Gate 2 High St, Kensington. We are in the basement of the E8 Theatre building - main entrance is directly opposite the University Terraces carpark.

There is limited parking in the Gate 2 area around Io Myers Studio but free parking is available from 6:30pm in the car park next to NIDA accessed through Day Ave.

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Produced by UNSW Creative Practice Lab

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