What a treat this week to have another fabulous Aussie author (yes, we’re claiming her!) Ashley Kalagian Blunt on the podcast this week to discuss her new book – How To Be Australian.
This wonderful memoir, which Ashley refers to as her ‘love letter to Australians’, details her first five years in Australia with her new husband Steve. They arrive in Sydney assuming that Australia is just like Canada with more sunshine and strange animals! But they soon discover things aren’t so simple. Steve struggles to settle and Ashley fears he will come to regret both the move and the marriage – especially after she loses her wedding rings on Bondi Beach. Baffled, homesick and increasingly anxious (in a land renowned for ‘no worries’), she is preparing to return to Canada when Steve shockingly announces that he wants to stay in Australia. Forever.
For the sake of her marriage and her happiness, Ashley must find an Australia she can belong to: she decides to travel the country, learn its history, decode our cultural quirks and connect with as many Aussies as she can meet.
In addition to How To Be Australian, Ashley has also authored My Name Is Revenge – a thriller novella and collected essays that was longlisted for 2020 Davitt Awards, shortlisted for the 2019 Woollahra Digital Literary Awards, and a finalist in the 2018 Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award.
Ashley’s writing appears in Griffith Review, Sydney Review of Books, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian, the Big Issue, Westerly, Kill Your Darlings, the Canberra Times, and more. Ashley is an award-winning speaker. She’s appeared at Sydney Writers’ Festival, Story Club, Little Fictions, the National Young Writers’ Festival and Noted Festival, and is a Moth StorySLAM winner.
She has a decade of experience in teaching and curriculum design, working with children and adults. She completed a Master of Research in creative writing and has previously lived and worked in Canada, South Korea, Peru and Mexico.
She is also the co-host of James and Ashley Stay at Home, a podcast about writing, creativity and health.
Why Alex Loved It
- The memoir is also about becoming an adult. Settling down and coming to terms with the end of the ‘odyssey stage’ aka travelling and adventuring.
- Ashley weaves in the story of the Armenian genocide in the book and in fact, draws parallels between the Armenian people and the plight of the Indigenous Australians.
- She shares her journey with anxiety and depression during the memoir which is incredibly powerful. Thank you Ashley – the more people that share, the sooner we can normalise this. xx
- It shines a mirror on us as Aussies and provides quite the opportunity for us to appreciate our unique ways, particularly our often harsh banter which we genuinely consider to be a sign of endearment. It was also a reminder that regardless of how much us Aussies love Vegemite – few others do!
- It’s honest and doesn’t sugarcoat life in Australia either. She highlights some of the systemic issues that as a country she believes we need to address including our treatment of Indigendous Australians and asylum seekers.
You can listen to Alex and Ashley’s chat on the podcast via your favourite podcast app, or by clicking on the link below.
Thanks so much for being part of the book club!
PS Our next book is American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins on October 16.