Writers on Writers: On John Marsden | On Kate Jennings (Alice Pung | Erik Jensen, Black Inc.)
Australian writers are being honoured in a new essay series called ‘Writers on Writers’, published by Black Inc. in association with the University of Melbourne and the State Library of Victoria. Launching the series is Erik Jensen, who focuses on his muse, novelist and poet Kate Jennings, and Alice Pung, who reflects on her hero, YA author and educator John Marsden. They are both inspired choices: Jensen is a skilled biographer (as Acute Misfortune proved) and Pung is one of our best YA authors (as Laurinda showed). These essays, which sit under 100 pages, combine literary criticism, biography and interview. They’re so well crafted that you don’t need to be a fan of either subject to enjoy them. Pung’s intimate, epistolary mode helps shed light on one of the most well-known but frequently misunderstood living Australian writers. Jennings, on the other hand, is perhaps one of the most underappreciated of her generation. Her 1996 novel Snake, Jensen argues, is one of the great Australian novels, and his superb essay will hopefully inspire readers to seek out her forgotten classic. Another four essays will follow, and if Jensen and Pung’s contributions are anything to go by, readers are in for a real treat.
Emily Laidlaw is a writer and editor from Melbourne