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During her residency in Sri Lanka (2005), Cunningham planned to complete Dharma is a Girl's Best Friend and to begin research on a third novel; both works responded to Cunningham's interest in the meeting of cultures, people and places. Sophie Cunningham was editor of Meanjin from 2008, resigning from the end of 2010 to return to full-time writing. In 2012, she was appointed chair of the Australia Council's Literature Board. In 2017, she was awarded the Nature Conservancy's Nature Writing Prize; the prize-winning essay, 'Biyala Stories', was published in Griffith Review.
'Staying with the Trouble'Australian Book Review
371The Best Australian Essays 2015
2015single work essay 'Percy Grainger walked to avoid self-flagellation. David Sedaris walked to placate his Fitbit. Virginia Woolf walked the streets of London, and later the South Downs, endlessly: because she loved it, because she was walking her dogs, because she needed to think clearly. For Henry Thoreau, every walk was a sort of 'crusade'. Sarah Marquis, who walked 16,000 kilometres over three years, sought a return to an essential self 'You become what nature needs you to be: this wild thing.'I Will Self began walking after he gave up heroin, though in his novel Walking to Hollywood (2010) the protagonist walks not to escape addiction but because he fears he has Alzheimer's. This feels familiar. My brother jokes about starting a group called Running Away from Dementia. Sometimes, catching sight of my reflected posture on a walk, I wonder if I am doing the same thing, walking away from fate. If so, could one ever walk fast enough?' (Publication abstract)
'The sky at the top end is big and the weather moves like a living thing. You can hear it in the cracking air when there is an electrical storm and as the thunder rolls around the sky…
'When Cyclone Tracy swept down on Darwin at Christmas 1974, the weather became not just a living thing but a killer. Tracy destroyed an entire city, left seventy-one people dead and ripped the heart out of Australia's season of goodwill.
'For the fortieth anniversary of the nation's most iconic natural disaster, Sophie Cunningham has gone back to the eyewitness accounts of those who lived through the devastation—and those who faced the heartbreaking clean-up and the back-breaking rebuilding. From the quiet stirring of the service-station bunting that heralded the catastrophe to the wholesale slaughter of the dogs that followed it, Cunningham brings to the tale a novelist's eye for detail and an exhilarating narrative drive. And a sober appraisal of what Tracy means to us now, as we face more—and more destructive—extreme weather with every year that passes.
'Compulsively readable and undeniably moving, Warning is the essential non-fiction book of 2014.' (Publication summary)
Melbourne2011single work prose travel Sophie Cunningham writes a year in the city's life, a year that takes us from the heatwave that culminated on Black Saturday when temperatures soared to 47 degrees to the destructive deluge of a hailstorm. She walks through Melbourne's oldest suburb to its largest market, she goes to the footy and to the comedy festival, she talks publishing and learns how to use a letterpress. Along the way she journeys deep into her own recollections of the city she grew up in, and tells stories from its history: the theft of Picasso's Weeping Woman, the Hoddle Street massacre, William Barak's trek from Healesville, the Westgate Bridge Disaster, the high drama of the 1970 and 2009 AFL grand finals and the Market Murders of the sixties. She strolls by Melbourne's rivers and creeks while considering the history of the wetlands and river that sit at Melbourne's heart. She clambers through the drains that lie beneath. For it is water - the corralling of it, the excess of it, the squandering of it, the lack of it - that defines Melbourne's history, its present and its future (publisher website).