Adelaide’s resident Nobel Laureate, JM Coetzee, describes the “South” as a “unique world”.

“There is only one South – its unique skies and its unique heavenly constellations. In this South the winds blow in a certain way and the leaves fall in a certain way and the sun beats down in a certain way that is instantly recognisable from one part of the South to another.”

Have you paused to think about where we, in Adelaide, are positioned on the planet? Have you ever noticed just how far south we are? Have you considered the many ways we may be connected to other southerners and southern spaces across the world?

Stories from the South Book Club is a new series for booklovers to explore what it means to inhabit this “unique world”. From September 2023 to April 2024, we will read major works by some of the most profound and far-sighted storytellers and poets of this broad region.

This includes works set in Africa and across the Indian Ocean by JM Coetzee and Abdulrazak Gurnah, both winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature. We will also read recent novels by the acclaimed First Nations Australian writers Kim Scott and Alexis Wright, as well as fiction and poetry by pathfinding Māori author Patricia Grace, and Marshall Islands climate activist and poet Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner.

Each in-person session will feature guest speakers who will facilitate group discussions. As a community, we will reflect on how these stories variously depict the “South” and how they offer crucial perspectives on the world at large.

The Book Club will build up to an unprecedented public event next year. Presented by the University of Adelaide during May 31 to June 4, 2024, Speaking from the South will bring together many of the club’s featured authors alongside other leading writers and thinkers from the southern hemisphere and Global South. The program will include public readings, talks, panel discussions and masterclasses.

Speakers will reflect on and propose pathways out of the intersecting problems that confront the world today, including global inequality and the ongoing impacts of colonialism, the climate catastrophe, the mass displacement of humans and other beings, and the technologisation of life.

Through story and in conversation, Speaking from the South will present visions for rebuilding community and sustaining life on earth. At its core, the program will also demonstrate the value and vitality of the arts, especially literature, in these challenging times.

How to participate in the Stories from the South Book Club

Each month we will read a book together and then meet to discuss it at Dymocks Adelaide in Rundle Mall, with introductory talks by local and interstate writers and readers. Meetings will be held on the last Tuesday of each month from 6-7.30pm from September 2023 to April 2024, with a summer break over December and January.

Books will be available to purchase from Dymocks, and many are also available in local libraries or can be sourced through electronic booksellers.

The Book Club’s online home is at InReview. Reading guides, creative writing prompts and recommended further readings will be made available through this platform for those wanting to enrich their reading, or to try their hand at writing their own stories from the South.

Online discussion will also be possible via the Facebook group Stories from the South for members unable to attend in person or wanting to participate in a more sustained community of readers.

Book Club meeting schedule
(Dymocks Adelaide in Rundle Mall at 6-7.30pm)

September 26, 2023: JM Coetzee, Boyhood
October 31, 2023: Kim Scott, Taboo
November 28, 2023: Patricia Grace, Pōtiki
February 27, 2024: Alexis Wright, Praiseworthy
March 26, 2024: Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner, Iep Jāltok
April 20, 2024: Abdulrazak Gurnah, By the Sea

Keep an eye on InReview for further announcements and Eventbrite ticketing links to participate in this free public Book Club.

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