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Lee Kofman

Author, Personal Development, Social Issues

Dr Lee Kofman spent ten years researching issues around body image and visible difference. She is also an author and editor of seven books. In her most recent book, the critically acclaimed memoir Imperfect, she tells her story of growing up while suffering anguish about her body that was severely scarred during multiple childhood surgeries, and later in life raising a child with albinism. Drawing on Lee’s experience and research, Imperfect also explores how we can live a fulfilled life in an ‘imperfect’ body.

Lee is also a passionate and versatile teacher. She used to teach social sciences across three major universities, and for the last 13 years she has been regularly teaching a wide range of writing workshops all around Australia. She is a candid, engaging and warm speaker about body image, visible differences, parenting and the art of writing. She also often discusses migration, having written extensively about her two migrations: from Russia to Israel, and later to Australia. And she is an experienced panel moderator, who has interviewed many well-known Australian and international authors. She speaks regularly at literary festivals, libraries, bookshops and in the media.

Where were you born?

I was born in a shabby hospital with dirty floors and tipsy staff in the Soviet Siberia.

What other jobs have you had?

Up until seven years ago when I’ve become a full-time writer and teacher of writing, I’d had multiple careers and jobs. Some of my highlights were being a journalist, a nightclub party organiser, an academic and doing a short stint as a shoe factory worker.

What themes are recurring in your work?

Body, feminism, romantic and parental relationships, sexuality, migration, bookishness, Russia, Israel, anti-semitism, being an outsider, a search for identity and for fulfilment.

What have been the highlights of your career?

This is a difficult question to answer, because there have been many…But if I have to choose one, it will be the fact that early in my thirties I managed to change the language in which I write – from Hebrew to English. And since then, I went onto not only publishing two books in English, but also editing works by some of the most prominent Australian authors for the two anthologies I curated within the last three years.

Where have your works been published?

My first three books were published in Israel, and the following four books were published by Australian publishers Affirm Press, Ventura Press and Melbourne University Press. My short fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry have been published in Australia, US, UK, Scotland, Israel and Canada in such publications as Best Australian Stories, Best Australian Essays, Griffith Review, Meanjin, Harper’s Bazaar, Malahat Review and Brand.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about discussing writing, and issues around body image, appearance diversity, and any other difference, with people of all ages. I believe that the best way to make a social change is to start as early as possible and so I’m passionate about both reaching general public and also talking to teachers, students and parents about how to live best with our differences in the world increasingly enamoured with perfection (which actually often means sameness). I am also passionate about slow-cooking tagines and curries…

Haven’t I seen you before?

You might have. In the last six years I’ve been appearing regularly in various public events and festivals, and in the media. Most recently, for example, I discussed my memoir Imperfect on television – Studio Ten, and on Radio National’s Conversations with Sarah Kanowski.

Haven’t I seen you before?

Me? Umm, maybe? Do you watch Channel 10’s The Project? Do you read the Sunday Herald Sun? The Age newspaper Melbourne? No? Well you probably heard me on ABC Radio Melbourne doing my thing!!

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I also blog about the writing process on my website, and often host there known authors working in a variety of genres (examples of past and forthcoming guests: Heather Morris, Andrew Hutchinson, Bram Presser, Alice Pung). My blog was a finalist at Best Australian Blogs 2014.

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