The Loss of a Great Australian Writer
We were deeply saddened to hear of the death of Australian novelist Georgia Blain who was diagnosed with a brain tumour last year. The author of Closed for Winter, Candelo and most recently Between a Wolf and a Dog holds a special place in our hearts at Better Reading, mine in particular.
In my work as website editor for Better Reading, I conduct many interviews with authors but Georgia was the first writer I ever interviewed. It was way back in 1999, Georgia had just written her second beautiful novel, Candelo. She was a new mother to her daughter, Odessa, a little tired therefore, while I was a slightly younger woman fumbling with my dictaphone at her small flat in Coogee. I’d read the book and carefully prepared my questions, but I was wary of asking about her mother, the broadcaster and writer Anne Deveson* (how tiresome it must be for a writer to answer questions about their writer mother), and about her brother Jonathan who died from a drug overdose after suffering from schizophrenia (how awful it must be to be reminded of such things) and yet because of the content of the book we were discussing, I wouldn’t be doing my job not to address those questions. I need not have worried; of course she was ready to answer those questions. Georgia was charming, thoughtful, welcoming, and afterwards, she told my editor at the newspaper that my piece had got the book in a way that no other interviewer had, inspiring me to continue interviewing authors.
I hadn’t seen Georgia again since that interview but followed her work and was dismayed to hear of her battle with a brain tumour which she so compellingly and heartbreakingly chronicled in her columns about the tumour, The Unwanted Guest, for The Saturday Paper. “All I know is that it’s been as good as it’s going to get. I am on the decline, and it would take a miracle to halt that trajectory,” she said in a recent column about euthanasia.
How sad to hear of Blain’s death just as her latest novel, Between a Wolf and A Dog, continues to receive so much acclaim. I’ve already seen it cited in numerous best books of 2016 lists, it’s been nominated for a Victorian Premier’s literary award and just today it made the longlist of the Independent Booksellers Awards, nominated for Best Novel. Though recognised in many awards over the years for her fiction an.d also her memoir, Births Deaths Marriages, with this latest novel let’s hope Georgia Blain receives even more of the recognition she so deserves. Blain was just 51 when she died, two days short of her 52nd birthday. She leaves a partner, Andrew, and a daughter, Odessa.
By Liz Durnan
*Update: Georgia’s mother Anne Deveson died the day this article was published, three days after her daughter.
To read more about Georgia Blain: