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Open Right

Linda Jaivin

Author, Social Commentator

Linda Jaivin is one of Australia’s most versatile writers. Her work spans humour, eroticism, social issues (The Infernal Optimist is set in an immigration detention centre), China studies, literary translation and cultural commentary. She has appeared on ABC’s Q & A and was a regular panelist on the now sadly defunct Critical Mass.

What other jobs have you had?

I’ve been a journalist, and still write essays for journals like The Monthly. I’m also literary translator from Chinese including film subtitles, and I’ve been an editor, a researcher and a consultant. I teach the occasional creative writing workshop. And I’m a Visiting Fellow at in the School of Culture, History and Language at the ANU College of Asia & the Pacific.

What themes are recurring in your work?

Themes that recur in my work include that of female desire, strength, and confusion; social satire; and marginalisation (a broad theme that includes the voluntary marginalisation of the artist, the de facto marginalisation of the independent single woman and the unwanted marginalisation of the refugee). I also tend to celebrate quirks.

What have been the highlights of your career?

It was very thrilling when my first novel, Eat Me, became an international bestseller; it’s been translated into something like twelve languages. I felt honoured when The Monkey and the Dragon was named as a ‘notable’ entry by the judges of the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Prize and The Infernal Optimist made the shortlist for the ASL Gold Medal in 2007. Being awarded UNSW Literary Fellow in 2004 was another highlight, as is a current invitation to deliver the prestigious Morrison Lecture at the ANU in 2011. I’m currently working on an opera in Beijing with a Chinese composer, and that’s pretty exciting, too.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about the importance of creativity in life; about learning foreign languages; about reading and writing; about the importance of art and culture. I’m passionate about seeing young people with creative talent realise their potential. I’m passionate about social justice issues including the treatment of refugees.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I recently spoke about my work at several universities in Beijing in Chinese and have conducted both creative writing and public speaking workshops in Chinese for Saatchi & Saatchi creative’s in Beijing as well. I’m happy to speak to Chinese-speaking (Mandarin) audiences.

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