Australian writer Alice Pung presented this year’s State of the (Writing) Nation oration, an initiative of Writers Victoria and the Wheeler Centre. Melbourne based writer Christos Tsiolkas, speaking before the oration, introduced Shu-Ling Chau, an emerging author also based in Melbourne. Pung’s address focussed on the production, promotion, and reception process of the writing process.
William Hazlitt wrote that ‘the smallest pain in our little finger causes us more concern than the destruction of our fellow human beings’. In her address, Pung will consider what kind of writing matters in the face of our small hurts and large griefs, and take an unflinching look at the excessive weight we place on literature to ameliorate our feelings. If you’re only half-grudgingly woke, is it better to just stay asleep? Pung will explore the pitfalls of this self-motivated obsession with using literature to educate, and examine whose expense it comes at.
Pung spoke about the experiences of disadvantaged writers in Australia, be they immigrants, refugees, disabled, indigenous, queer, or poor. This is essential listening for anyone with an interest in Australian literature.