An Interview with Marion Halligan
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Australian author Marion Halligan began publishing fiction later in life. She has won numerous awards for her writing, including the Age Book of the Year for Lovers' Knots in 1992. More recently her work has appeared in The Best Australian Stories 2012 and the latest edition of The Griffith Review. Halligan has largely flown under the radar of literary critics, however, perhaps partly because her work is set in the suburbs and the domestic realm. For Halligan, suburbia is a rich source of material: it is 'where life happens, where people live and love one another and raise their children, where there is grief and recrimination and murder and pain, it is where the human comedy unfolds'. The following interview was conducted at Marion Halligan's Canberra home in 2011. It is an informal discussion around her work, in particular three of her novels which feature an artist protagonist who is struggling to come to terms with the experience of loss, grief and bereavement. These novels, Lovers' Knots (1992), The Golden Dress (1998) and The Fog Garden (2001) are rich explorations of the role of art in the lives of the main characters and in our lives in general. According to Halligan, 'the world is a cruel and dark and difficult place and it is words that light the small candle flames that keep the dark at bay'. Words and writing are essential to her life. In an essay titled 'Why I Write', she says: 'I write in order to put the world into words. I've always done that in my head. I can't perceive anything without trying to find words for it'. Halligan's writing is an evocative exploration of the human condition and the ways we cope in the face of events common to all of us during our lives.