Q & A with Nicholas Jose

Q & A with Nicholas Jose
Authors at the National Library
15 March 2016

On Sunday 20 March, Professor Nicholas Jose will visit the Library to deliver the 2016 Eric Rolls Memorial Lecture. Professor Jose is a novelist, essayist, playwright and academic. He studied for his undergraduate degree at the Australian National University, and gained his doctorate at Oxford University, before returning to ANU to teach in the English department from 1978 to 1985. He then taught briefly in China, before serving as Cultural Counsellor in the Australian Embassy Beijing from 1987 to 1990.

He is currently Adjuct Professor with the Writing and Society Research Centre of the University of Western Sydney, Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and Professor of English and Creative Writing in the School of Humanities at the University of Adelaide.

We caught a moment with Nicholas before his visit to talk about his experiences writing and reading.

 Photographic portrait of Nicholas Jose

Ricardo Finocchiaro, Nicholas Jose at Villa Ocampo (detail), courtesy Nicholas Jose.

Why do you write?

It’s addictive. I don’t always know where it’s going and often I surprise myself. I forget about the time when I’m writing.

What are you reading right now?

Demons by Dostoevsky, in the new translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. Last year I was blown away by Under Western Eyes, Joseph Conrad’s novel written in response to Dostoevksy’s. Both write about terrorism.

How would you describe your latest book?

My latest book is Bapo, a collection of short fiction, mostly inspired by China, some set in Australia. The title literally means ‘eight broken’. It’s an obscure term from Chinese art that describes an arrangement of torn, burned, broken pieces into a beautiful new pattern.

Cover of book Bapo

What was the best part of writing your latest book?

The pieces were written over a number of years and are quite different from each other in mood and approach. It was fascinating to see the pattern emerge.

What do you love about libraries?

Libraries are the most creative places. I love taking notes with pencil from documents that will then return to the archive. IN that process the story is already starting to emerge.