U.S Author, Lauren Groff, On Her Love Of Australian Literature

"There's something about Australian fiction that feels really hyper perceptive about the way we live now."
Lauren Groff.Supplied.

Lauren Groff is one of the biggest names in literature right now.

The American novelist has written five novels—three of these making the New York Times bestsellers list—and a short story collection. Her 2015 novel Fates and Furies, which examines a marriage from the dual perspectives of a husband and wife, was even selected by Barack Obama as his favourite book of the year.

Next month, Lauren is making the journey to Australia for the Melbourne and Sydney writer’s festivals, where she will join conversations with writers including Charlotte Wood and Francesca de Tores.

Lauren Groff's books.

The setting couldn’t be more fitting for Lauren as this American writer just happens to harbour an particular affection for Australian literature.

“I love Australian fiction,” Lauren tells marie claire Australia. “There’s something about Australian fiction that feels really hyper-perceptive about the way we live now.”

“We’re so used to centring with Europe and the U.S. that the vast majority of the books that get marketed, and get sold and are taught, happen to be from those two continents.

“So, having fiction from Australia and New Zealand is really meaningful because in some ways it feels it’s like the inverse of what we’re used to because everything’s, you know, counter clockwise and a little bit further away.”

Lauren continues, “I think there’s something really valuable about at least being positioned as outside of the centre, especially for a writer, right? You can’t really observe things from the centre as well as you can from a couple of steps away.”

One of Lauren’s favourite Australian authors is the great Helen Garner, with Groff even writing an introduction to a new edition of Garner’s Monkey Grip that was released to U.S audiences.

“I think she’s wise and she’s sharp and she says the things that we all think but we’re afraid to say,” Lauren says of Garner.

“I’ve loved her since I read The Spare Room when it first came out, and thought ‘who is this person!?’ She’s, she’s really magnificent. And I love that book and I’ve recommended it to many, many people.”

But Garner isn’t Lauren’s only foray into Australian fiction, she’s also a big fan of Shirley Hazzard, Fiona McFarlane, and Charlotte Wood.

In fact, Lauren’s most important literary influences hail from various continents and cover more than one form.

“I have to say the work that actually makes the strongest impression on me is actually poetry,” Lauren says.

“Emily Dickinson was the reason why I became a writer. And then the reason I became a short story writers is that I went to graduate school with Lorrie Moore. I also met Grace Paley very early on and she was so incredibly sharp, and smart and funny that I kind of co-opted her voice to be my editorial voice and she sort of sits here and reads along with me, like my work.”

Lauren adds, “the beautiful thing about being a writer is this is the constantly shifting list of influences, but it’s very real, and it’s very deep. ”

Lauren Groff.
(Credit: Getty )

When it comes to her own writing, Lauren relies on two things—the early morning and a particularly special contract with her husband.

“I’ve always loved to write really, really early in the morning because I just like the world when no other people are there,” Lauren laughs. “And at 4.30 or 5.00 a.m., I go up to my room with a cup of coffee, and I have this beautiful contract with my husband.”

“When the kids were born, we sat down and we wrote up a thing. Part of the thing is, with the kids, I don’t have to get up and feed them breakfast. I don’t have to take them to school. I don’t have to make them lunches. I never get up. I never see any people in the morning. And that has been really, really wonderful and helpful.”

“It just allows me the space to sort of stare off into the distance and just imagine—which writing takes a huge amount of, and anyone who’s watching you would think that you’re just wasting time but it’s never wasting it.”

Currently, that time is spent working on not one but three works.

“I like to work on many at once because I like to go where the energy and heat are,” Lauren explains. “Often when there’s no heat in a work, it’s because you’ve failed it somehow and so you have to figure out how to bring it back into you.”

“None of them could work out. It’s totally fine if they don’t,” Lauren acknowledges, “I’m just waking up and doing the work and seeing where it takes me.”

Lauren Groff will be joining conversations at Melbourne Writers Festival and Sydney Writer’s Festival in 2024.

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