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Sophie Cunningham Sophie Cunningham i(A61963 works by)
Gender: Female
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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.

Most Referenced Works


  • Warning: The Story of Cyclone Tracy (Text Publishing) was longlisted for a Walkley Award in 2014, and shortlisted for a Queensland Literary Award (History Book award) in 2015.

Personal Awards

2019 recipient Order of Australia Member of the Order of Australia (AM) For significant service to literature as an author, editor and role model.
2005 Australia Council Literature Board Grants Grants for Developing Writers $15,000 for fiction writing.
2005 recipient Asialink Arts Exchanges Program Residency in Sri Lanka.

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon City of Trees : Essays on Life, Death and the Need for a Forest Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2019 15403808 2019 selected work essay autobiography travel

'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.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2019 longlisted Mark and Evette Moran Nib Award for Literature
'Staying with the Trouble' 2015 single work essay
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , May no. 371 2015; (p. 24-29) The Best Australian Essays 2015 2015;
'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)
2015 winner The Calibre Prize
y separately published work icon Warning : The Story of Cyclone Tracy Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2014 7418671 2014 single work biography

'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)

2015 winner 'The Nib': CAL Waverley Library Award for Literature Mark and Evette Moran Nib Award for Literature The Alex Buzo Shortlist Prize
2015 shortlisted Mark and Evette Moran Nib Award for Literature
2015 shortlisted Kibble Literary Awards Nita Kibble Literary Award
Last amended 12 Jun 2019 16:01:29
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