There are only a handful of books I've returned to again and again. New York by Lily Brett is one of them (as well as her book of Poems). If you have any curiosity about the city, I suggest you read it. It is funny and clever and provides plenty of insight into the city that never sleeps. Lily was born in Germany and migrated with her family to Australia in the late 1940s. In 1987 her first book, The Auschwitz Poems, won the Victorian Premier’s Award for poetry. She has won several other major prizes for her fiction and poetry, including the 1995 NSW Premier's Award for Fiction for Just Like That. Lily's novel, Too Many Men, was an international bestseller. She has lived in New York since 1989 with her husband, artist David Rankin, and their three children.
Which five words best describe you? Anxious, funny, writer, mother, wife.
What path have you taken to arrive in New York? Like many women, I followed a man. I'm still with him.
What's your proudest career achievement? The books that I've written.
What's been your best decision? To be with the man I am with.
Who inspires you? So many people. Women in different parts of the world, poets like Anna Kamienska or Dahlia Ravikovitch. The economist, Eleni Gabre-Madhin, who set up the first commodities exchange in Ethiopia as part of a program to alleviate hunger in that country. My husband, my children.
What are you passionate about? My family, writing, food, fabric, poetry.
What do you love about New York? It's impossible to live here and sink into a smug or complacent old age or middle age. It's a city that almost forces you to be the best you can be. There's always something to provoke you. Something to make you think. Something to distress you. Something to excite you. It's a fabulous city.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? Something I learnt when I was very young. And that is, that love is everything.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My mother, who died twenty-three years ago.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I have so many of them. I'd like to spend more time in China. I'd like to be able to tango, I'd like to be calmer.
What are you reading? Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. It's a brilliant and inspiring book. And, it's as compelling to read as a great poem or novel.
images courtesy of lily brett