A space for authors to unpack and explore their latest work
MJBW is delighted to continue our series of Book Chats for this current year. It gives us great pleasure to offer such a diversity of writers for your enjoyment during this holiday break.

In this series of Book Chats, we explore how the past is personal — from historians who can’t help but find themselves a part of the history they’re writing about, to journalists motivated to save and share the extraordinary stories of those close to them. (Plus: we hear about why the Brussels sprout is perhaps the world’s most misunderstood vegetable.)


Ramona Koval has played many roles in the Australian literary landscape. She is a writer, journalist, editor and former broadcaster renowned for her in-depth conversations with significant writers for many years on Radio National’s ‘Books and Writing’ program. 

In her chat, Ramona discusses her new book A letter to Layla, in which she travels the world in a quest to understand our deep past — and what may be our near future. In this chat, Ramona outlines her case for optimism for the future.

Daniel Lee is a British historian of the Second World War and a specialist in the history of Jews in France and North Africa during the Holocaust. He teaches at Queen Mary, University of London. Lee’s first book, Pétain’s Jewish Children, examined the experiences of Jewish youth under the Vichy regime. As a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker, Daniel Lee is a regular broadcaster on radio.

In his book chat, Daniel shares the fascinating story of the piece of furniture that serves as the focal point of his latest book, The SS Officer's Armchair — and explores the complexity of historians who find themselves inadvertently part of the stories they’re trying to tell.

Dr Henry R (Harry) Lew OAM is a retired ophthalmic surgeon. In his spare time he has written a variety of non-medical books: Horace Brodzky, In Search of Derwent Lees, The Five Walking Sticks, The Stories Our Parents Found Too Painful To Tell, Lion Hearts, Smitten by Catherine and Imaging the World, which, although not a medical book, has some medical basis to it. 

Henry's book chat centres on his latest work, Patterson of Israel. In the chat, Henry shares the story of John Henry Patterson, the non-Jewish British army officer who led the ‘Jewish Legion’ during the First World War, and explores the underexplored interactions between the ANZACS and the Jewish troops at Gallipoli and Palestine.

David Slucki is an author and historian based in Melbourne. He is the Loti Smorgon Associate Professor in Contemporary Jewish Life and Culture in the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, Monash University. He teaches classes on the Holocaust, on genocides, on modern Jewish history, on popular culture, and on comedy.

In his book chat, David Slucki explores what brought him to write his memoirSing This at My Funeral: A Memoir of Fathers and Sons, and shares the history of the Bundists — a Jewish socialist movement, still active in Melbourne, centered on the concept of ‘Doikayt’ or ‘hereness’.

Sue Smethurst is an award-winning author and journalist who has spent more than 20 years working in the media across television, radio and magazines. She is currently a senior writer with The Australian Women’s Weekly and has written eight books, including Behind Closed Doors, Spartacus and Me, Blood on the Rosary and A Diamond in the Dust.

In her book chat, Sue talks about her latest work, The Freedom Circus, the remarkable true story of her parents-in-law’s epic journey to Australia. Sue discusses the importance of recording family history, putting her journalistic skills to use on a highly personal project, and the final conversation she wishes she could have with Mindla, her extraordinary grandmother-in-law.

Alice Zaslavsky (aka 'Alice in Frames’) is a cook, a writer and an active listener. She broadcasts on ABC Radio and appears regularly on television. Her previous book, Alice’s Food A-Z was the first cookbook to be given a Notable Book gong by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. In her new book, In Praise of Veg, Alice encourages people of all ages to find the joy in cooking and eating.

In her book chat, Alice discusses what drew her to writing In Praise of Veg, which vegetables get the worst rap, and shares how her Georgian and Jewish heritage influences the way she cooks.

Each individual book chat is now available on the MJBW website — look for the Book Chats page.

This series is proudly supported by: 




Please support MJBW as we continue to bring the literary world to you. MJBW remains committed to presenting a curated program of online events. We are proud to offer these events for free but we rely on your generosity and ask you to support us by making a donation.

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