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A stunning memoir from one of Australia's most highly acclaimed writers

A stunning memoir from one of Australia's most highly acclaimed writers

Beginning with the disastrous events of the night before her fortieth birthday, Drusilla Modjeska looks back on the past thirty years. In asking the candid questions that so many of us face – about love and independence, growing older, the bonds of friendship and family – she reassesses the experiences that have shaped her writing, her reading and the way she has lived. The result is a memoir that is at once intellectually provocative and deeply honest; the book that readers of Poppy, The Orchard and Stravinsky’s Lunch have been waiting for.

Reviews

Thoughtful, absorbing, utterly original; a memoir full of literary doors standing temptingly ajar. I loved it.

Annabel Crabb

Second Half First offers a diaphanous and nuanced vision of the layers of a life, and of life writing. Its magnificent collective portrait reveals Modjeska’s life as part of those it intersects with, including the women writers she lives with and reads ... [a] luminous and captivating work

Felicity Plunkett, Australian

With an amazing lightness of touch, [Modjeska] takes her reader on a journey across continents and centuries, discussing, among other things, lovers, parents, family, friends, literature, visual art, depression, death, and the post-colonial realities of Papua New Guinea ... Second Half First is a deeply crafted narrative, not only in its weave and structure, but also in the ways in which Modjeska invokes the visual arts to articulate her concerns ... Second Half First has a soul. It is both solid and expansive. Modjeska assembles her stanzas masterfully to create a poem of great insight, intelligence, and beauty.

Bernadette Brennan, Australian Book Review

This enthralling memoir ... is a remarkable literary work ... Modjeska’s eloquent reckoning not only of her own history, but of her intellectual life, reaffirm[s] her as a lucid, formidable thinker ... Wise, vital and relayed in Modjeska’s restrained, sophisticated prose, [the book is] a major contribution to a literary lineage traceable to Virginia Woolf, one of Modjeska’s own heroes, herself a constant presence throughout this remarkable book.

Gerard Elsom, Books+Publishing

Second Half First is a beautiful, sometimes profound, and always engaging memoir by a great writer.

Mark Rubbo, Readings Magazine

Second Half First is on my shelf near the poet Elizabeth Bishop, who also wrote despite tragedy and liked travelling in remote, unmapped regions. For this reader, Modjeska's work, with its unanswered questions, is a beacon.

Sydney Morning Herald

Compelling reading

Newtown Review of Books

Modjeska’s memoir Second Half First is warm, intelligent and open-hearted, and provides a rarely captured perspective … Like Italian novelist Elena Ferrante, Modjeska takes the reader to the close grain of an older woman’s life: to friendships that restore perspective on shared experiences … to a vibrant late love affair … Also examined are the complexities of the literary form, including those of the memoir

Brenda Walker, The Monthly

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780857989819

    October 3, 2016

    Vintage Australia

    384 pages

    RRP $22.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Hardback

    9780857989796

    October 1, 2015

    Knopf Australia

    400 pages

    RRP $39.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9780857989802

    October 1, 2015

    RHA eBooks Adult

    384 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Awards and Recognition

  • 2015
    Colin Roderick Award
    Longlisted
  • 2015
    Colin Roderick Award
    Longlisted
  • 2016
    ALS Gold Medal Award
    Shortlisted
  • 2016
    ALS Gold Medal Award
    Shortlisted
  • 2016
    Nita B Kibble Literary Awards
    Shortlisted
  • 2016
    Nita B Kibble Literary Awards
    Shortlisted
  • 2016
    Prime Minister's Literary Awards
    Shortlisted
  • 2016
    Prime Minister's Literary Awards
    Shortlisted
  • 2016
    Queensland Literary Awards
    Shortlisted
  • 2016
    Queensland Literary Awards
    Shortlisted
  • 2016
    Victorian Premier's Literary Awards
    Shortlisted
  • 2016
    Victorian Premier's Literary Awards
    Shortlisted

Also by Drusilla Modjeska

The Mountain

Recommendations

Not Dead Yet: The Autobiography
The Princess Diarist
Yassmin's Story
The Boy Behind the Curtain
Lean In
The Pigeon Tunnel
Everything to Live For
Hooked
When Breath Becomes Air
Not All Black and White
Lion: A Long Way Home
In Order To Live
The Choice
The Fair and the Foul
Not Your Average Nurse
The Man Who Climbs Trees
Life Sentence
Thrive
Life on Air
Autumn