First Chapters Q&A with Lee Kofman


Lee Kofman is a Russian born,  Israeli-Australian novelist, short story writer, essayist, memoirist and former academic.
Her work has been widely published in Australia, USA, Canada, Israel, UK and Scotland.  Lee holds a PhD in Social Sciences and an MA in Creative Writing, and is a mentor and teacher of writing.

Lee will be reading from her new book Imperfect at First Chapters on Friday 1 March.


1. Brunswick Bound has asked you to read a piece from your published work.  Tell us what we can expect from the piece you have chosen?

I’ve chosen to read the opening scene of the book, where a new lover discovers my scars. This passage encapsulates some of the lifelong shame and anxiety I’ve felt about my body and how these have impacted my life and my sense of self.

2. How would you describe the kind of books that you write?

I’ve written books in two languages (and therefore in very different voices), and in a variety of genres – short fiction, novels, a memoir and creative nonfiction. But they all share a certain tragicomic mood and the fact that they all have greatly embarrassed me. I always write against myself.

3. What was the first book that you read (or had read to you) that left an impression on you?

The Little Prince. I haven’t re-read it since my childhood and so my memory of it might be inaccurate, but it doesn’t matter because you’re asking me about the impression. And the impression was dark – in my mind this book is always connected to desolation and despair, and the wisdom one can find in these. Maybe this is why I write so much tragicomedy…

4. Do you believe that books should answer life’s big questions?

Yes. Or rather, sort-of. They should more engage with these questions rather than answer them, and should also question received wisdoms. I’m weary of books written manifesto-style or attempting to ‘educate’. I’m way more interested in books that are quests, that try to understand or problematise.

5. Do you have any writing quirks?

I can’t begin writing a long or short work until I have the first sentence.

6.  What is your favourite word or phrase?

I have many favourite words: cream, emerald, metamorphosis… I can go on.

7. What have you found most surprising about publishing a book?

That, as my friend Nicola Redhouse says, rejections don’t end after your book is accepted for publication. There are plenty more ways to feel rejected as an author too. In short, I was surprised to realise that to be a published writer, to some degree you must be a masochist.

8. What is the question that you hope never to be asked in an author Q&A?

How many books have you sold? Or: Do you have an agent?

9. What question do you hope you will be asked and why?

I always hope to be asked questions around the voice and language (like your question about favourite words). I think in the current literary climate we talk too much about the politics of writing and too little about its soul.

10. Which author that you have read do you think should be better known or more widely read?

KatieRoiphe. She is magnificent; a nuanced and often misunderstood thinker and artist.

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