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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.
'How do we take in the beauty of our planet while processing the losses? What trees can survive in the city? Which animals can survive in the wild? How do any of us—humans, animals, trees—find a forest we can call home?
'In these moving, thought-provoking essays Sophie Cunningham considers the meaning of trees and our love of them. She chronicles the deaths of both her fathers, and the survival of P-22, a mountain lion in Griffith Park, Los Angeles; contemplates the loneliness of Ranee, the first elephant in Australia; celebrates the iconic eucalyptus and explores its international status as an invasive species.
'City of Trees is a powerful collection of nature, travel and memoir writing set in the context of global climate change. It meanders through, circles around and sometimes faces head on the most pressing issues of the day. It never loses sight of the trees.'
'Staying with the Trouble'2015single work essay — Appears in:
Australian Book Review,May
3712015;(p. 24-29)The Best Australian Essays 20152015;'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.' 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)