What brings together a Russian-born Israeli-Australian author, Lee Kofman, who one day decides to take her (unsuspecting) Orthodox Jewish mother to Sexpo and an unconventional Greek girl, Maria Katsonis, whose father locks her out of the house after her all night drinking marathons? Writing, of course, and, more specifically, writing grounded in their personal experiences.
In Rebellious Daughters, some of Australia’s most talented female writers share true stories of rebellion and independence as they defy expectations of parents and family to find their place in the world.
“We wanted to find out what other writers can reveal about this supposedly universal life experience, which has been so formative in our lives,” explains Katsonis and Kofman. “We decided to focus on female experiences.”
“To this day, the stereotypes of daughters as dutiful and obedient seem to endure in contrast to sons who presumably sow their wild oats as a rite of passage. We wanted to hear the less-talked-about stories of daughters – stories of independence, stories of breaking away from familial continents to assert the Self.”
The stories in Rebellious Daughters explore childhood mischief, the angst of teenage years and lifelong conflicted family relationships, offer cautionary fairy tales, and tell it all about pashing boys and becoming mothers themselves. They will surprise, provoke and delight readers whether it’s getting into trouble in a seedy nightclub, reading erotica under the covers by torchlight or sabotaging their father’s ritual afternoon coffee. The contributors are:
Marion Halligan (ACT) Daughters of Debate – Halligan reminisces over her rebellious sisters, who openly resisted the role of young women in Australia in the 1950s and early 1960s.
Krissy Kneen (QLD) Wundermärchen: A Retelling of My Grandmother – Kneen shares the story of losing her virginity, and rising up against the strict sexual mores imposed by her family.
Leah Kaminsky (VIC) Pressing the Seams – Kaminsky’s tale explores themes of running away, at first with boys and later men, and rebelling against the ‘old world’ of her father, a holocaust survivor.
Jamila Rizvi (VIC) The Good Girl – Rizvi, the archetypal ‘good girl’, who lives out her rebellion vicariously through her baby sister’s mischief.
Lee Kofman (VIC) Me, My Mother and Sexpo – Kofman’s rebels against the sexual rules placed on her by her ultra-orthodox Jewish family by taking her mother to Sexpo.
Eliza-Jane Henry-Jones (VIC) Just be Kind – Henry-Jones’s rebellion stems from her experiences of Alzheimer’s, addiction and violence within her family.
Maria Katsonis (VIC) A Spoonful of Sugar (or not) – Katsonis rebels against the Greek expectations of what a ‘good girl’ should be.
Susan Wyndham (NSW) A Man of One’s Own – Not all rebellion leads to self-discovery, as Wyndham shares her experience of marrying too young.
Rebecca Starford (VIC) Who Owns My Story? – Breaking the confines of the role of a daughter set by her family, Starford reflects on her path of self-discovery, in particular, her homosexuality and writing career.
Silvia Kwon (VIC) Looking for Happiness in Australia – Silvia Kwon rebels by moving out of her Korean parents’ traditional home, and ceasing to act as their translator and ‘bureaucratic caretaker’.
Jo Case (VIC) Rebelling to Conform – A cautionary tale of the problematic nature of rebellion, Case contemplates her school life and the renegades she became caught up with as a rebellious teenager.
Nicola Redhouse (VIC) The Peacock House – Rebellion for Redhouse is an act of emotional disentanglement, as she struggles to grow up free from the sadness that has shadowed her mother’s turbulent life.
Amra Pajalic (VIC) Nervous Breakdowns – Seedy nightclub life is explored in Pajalic’s story of rebellion and falling in with the wrong crowd.
Caroline Baum (NSW) Estranged – A late rebellion in her forties, Baum’s story focuses on the passage of time and how it’s shaped her identity and relationship with her parents.
Michelle Law (QLD): Joyride – Law recounts rebelling against her strict Chinese upbringing to pursue a bourgeoning, yet unsuccessful, romance.
Rochelle Siemienowicz (VIC) Resisting the Nipple – For Siemienowicz, motherhood opened a new opportunity for rebellion as she grew determined to mould herself into a different kind of mother from the one she had.
Jane Caro (NSW) Where Mothers Stop and Daughters Start – Caro had to contend with not one but two rebellious daughters, and also with two very different types of rebellion – one full of drama and intensity, the other of withdrawal and oppressive silences.
“Lock up your daughters! With role models like these, you’ll need industrial strength chains to harness the energy, intelligence and ambition of the next generation of wayward women,” says 2014 Stella Prize Winner, Clare Wright. “Brave, brutally honest memoir at its evocative best.”
Maria Katsonis is the author of the memoir The Good Greek Girl (Ventura Press 2015), an account of her experience of mental illness and rebellion against a traditional Greek upbringing. It will be published in the UK later this year as The Mind Thief. Her writing has appeared in The Age, The Guardian and New Paradigm. A vocal mental health advocate, Maria is a beyondblue Ambassador and a consumer representative with Mental Health Australia. In her day job, she is a senior executive at the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet.
Lee Kofman is an award winning Russian-born Israeli-Australian author of four books, writing teacher and mentor. Her most recent book is The Dangerous Bride: Memoir of Love, Gods and Geography (Melbourne University Press, 2014), which has been included in Recommended Books lists at 2014 (The Age and Australian Book Review) and 2015 (The Age). Her short works have been published widely in Australia, Scotland, UK, USA and Canada, including in Best Australian Stories and Best Australian Essays, and her blog on the writing process was a finalist for Best Australian Blogs 2014.
Rebellious Daughters is published by Ventura Press and is now available from all leading book retailers. For more information, visit: www.venturapress.com.au for details.
Image: Rebellious Daughters: True stories from Australia’s finest female writers