Writing & News

Reviews of Hard Joy: life and writing by Susan Varga

From The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age by Lucy Sussex and Steven Carroll

Non-fiction pick of the week

Hard Joy: Life and Writing
Susan Varga, Upswell, $29.99

Susan Varga’s distinctive memoir (incorporating her taut but resonant poetry) comes over as an effortless blend of the epic and intimate, and easy to read – but it was hard won. You finish with admiration both for the book and for the writer.

Born in Hungary in 1943, she fled after the war, with her mother, sister and step-family (her father dying in a Nazi labour camp) to Sydney, where at university she entered the daunting, mostly male-dominated Sydney Push. Sex followed, relationships and marriage, until she met the woman with whom she fell in love. She started writing, was happy, was unhappy, and at 68 had a stroke.

Hard Joy, global in its sweep but deeply personal, was written in its shadow. Beguilingly simple, she draws you in, covering the emotional and intellectual highs and lows of living – and of the writing life.