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Nadia Wheatley – Her Mother’s Daughter

Our first FOBL event for the year was such a treat. Nadia Wheatley, a great supporter of FOBL over many years, spoke to a packed room about her latest book, her memoir, Her Mother’s Daughter. Mariella Totaro-Genevois, our former FOBL Chair and friend of Nadia’s, introduced Nadia. She spoke of Nadia’s many achievements, her prolific writing career and her support …

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FOBL AGM 2019 – Chair’s Report

Fiona Mitchell is the current Chair of the FOBL committee.  She delivered this report at the FOBL AGM for 2019. “I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land where we are meeting tonight, the Wangal and Cadigal people of the Eora nation. Here, at this FOBL gathering where we always celebrate books and writing, it is good …

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December 2018 – Luke Slattery: Messing with fact and fiction in early Sydney – an imaginary novel

Each speaker at a FOBL event brings us a new perspective on issues of our culture, particularly literary ones. Our guests reward the audience of FOBL members and visitors with intelligent and entertaining food for thought. This was certainly the case at our last event for 2018. Luke Slattery, a Balmain resident and respected and awarded journalist, critic and author, …

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FOBL 2018 Writing Competition Report

This is the ninth year in which FOBL has held writing competitions for the primary schools on the peninsula and for the Balmain Campus of the Sydney Secondary College (SSC). As in previous years, for the Secondary writing competition we worked in conjunction with Mirjana Simic, the Head Teacher of English, to choose a theme to fit with the English …

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October 2018 – Inaugural Trivia Night

It was our first, and I hope our inaugural, FOBL Trivia night. The Balmain Town Hall small meeting room had been turned into a patchwork of colourful tables. These were waiting to be filled by teams testing their literary knowledge as well as the occasional question about Balmain history. The evening started with people helping themselves to the delicious supper …

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Professor Steve Rayner – “Climate Change: Armageddon or damp squib?”

On the 30th August FOBL was proud and fortunate to be able to present Professor Steve Rayner while he was in Sydney attending a conference on the Social Study of Science.  Not a stranger to these shores, Steve had previously visited Australia on several occasions. In 2010 he delivered the Jack Beale Memorial Lecture at the University of NSW and …

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Andrew Andersons AO talks about the Sydney Modern project

FOBL’s year opened on Friday April 27 with a fascinating talk about the Sydney Modern project by Andrew Andersons AO, the renowned architect who designed the previous extensions to the Art Gallery of NSW. The function was well attended with FOBL members and non members who clearly had an interest in what is a closely scrutinised project. Our speaker’s talk was illustrated …

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Kate McClymont, Investigative Journalist, Sydney Morning Herald

It was a full, excited, house on Friday 6th October to hear Kate McClymont speak to FOBL. Her talk was entitled The Bold, The Belligerent and the Bagmen. Kate McClymont is an investigative journalist currently reporting for the Sydney Morning Herald. In the late 1980s, McClymont worked for two years as a junior reporter on Four Corners. In 2002, she …

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Boosting the Books with FOBL in October 2015

Friends of Balmain Library workers had a very happy time presiding over our Third Book Boost. We spent almost $5,000.00 buying books for the Library on the weekend of 17/18 October. This is how it works: we ask the Library staff which areas need a top up. Last year it was non-fiction which resulted in a very colourful supply of …

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July 2019 Open Book Group – Red Notice by Bill Browder

Thank you to Gerry for moderating Red Notice – How I Became Putin’s No. 1 Enemy by Bill Browder.  Red Notice (an international arrest warrant) is a Bill Browder’s memoir of his life as a fund manager investing in the turbulent emerging markets of Poland and Russia. Catastrophic events in Russia change Browder’s life and he becomes a human rights activist. …

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June 2019 Open Book Group – Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

Thank you to Trish for moderating by Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie. Home Fire addresses a very contemporary problem – the radicalisation of young men, disaffected with their lives in first world countries, going overseas to fight for terrorist groups such as ISIS. 19-year-old British born, but ethically Pakistani, Parvaiz Pasha is the young man in question in this novel. …

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14th May 2019 – Autumn by Ali Smith

Autumn is the first of Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet. As one member commented, it is a beautifully written postmodern novel that considers, among other things, the chaotic condition of today’s social life in Britain (and elsewhere) brought about by the mess modernity has gotten itself into. The group was split in terms of enjoyment of the book, some commenting that …

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February 2019 Open Book Group – Moshi Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto

Thank you to Pat for moderating Moshi Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto. Yocchan and her mother are recovering from the death of their musician father/husband in a murder-suicide by a woman with whom he was having an affair. She drugged his drink and then killed them both. Looking for a fresh start Yocchan moves alone from the family’s condo in Meguro …

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December 2018 Open Book Group – The Book of the Night Women by Marlon James

I welcomed the chance to moderate The Book of the Night Women by Marlon James, a Man Booker Prize-winning author. A historical novel set in 1785, Lilith is one of six mulatto house slaves born on Humphrey Wilson’s Montpellier estate in Jamaica. Their mothers were all raped by the same overseer Jack Wilkins. Through Lilith, speaking in Jamaican patois, we …

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November 2018 Open Book Group – Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift

Thank you to Maggie for moderating Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift. The OBG crowd quickly swelled to 18 as they streamed in to grab a seat before our ever punctual 1.00 pm kick off. It’s  Mothering Sunday 1924 twenty-two-year-old Jane Fairchild, foundling and maid to the Niven household has no mother to visit. Her clandestine lover for many years Paul, …

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October 2018 Open Book Group – Light and Shadow: Memoirs of a Spy’s Son by Mark Colvin

Thank you to Kevin for moderating Light and Shadow: Memoirs of a Spy’s Son by Mark Colvin. Mark Colvin was born into an English father and an Australian mother. He was brought up in England enduring the brutality of boarding at Preparatory School, Summer fields and then attending an elite Public School, Westminster. He travelled to Australia at the age …

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July 2018 Open Book Group – In The Darkroom by Susan Faludi

Welcome to Toni and thank you to Gillian Shenfield for moderating In The Darkroom by Susan Faludi. Faludi is a successful New York-based feminist journalist and author. In 1991 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism. Out of the blue in 2004, Faludi receives an email from her father, living in Budapest, from whom she has been estranged for …

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June 2018 Open Book Group – Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Thank you to Chris for moderating Lincoln in the Bardo, the 2017 Man Booker Prize winner, by George Saunders. Well, wow, was this an original Post-Modern novel or what? Chris noted she had chosen the book because she had really wanted to “talk to someone about it”. The feeling was obviously mutual as a large group gathered getting straight down …

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May 2018 Open Book Group – Dark Emu Black Seeds: agriculture or accident by Bruce Pascoe

Bruce is a scholar from Tasmania with an aboriginal heritage. I suggested this book for the group after a number of friends told me it was a ‘must read’. I am very pleased that I took their advice because for me and I think the OBG group, it was a real eye-opener. Pascoe’s thesis, in summary, is that aboriginal people …

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