Rapid-fire questions for the author of I Built No Schools in Kenya.
Kirsten Drysdale is a television presenter and journalist best known for her work on The Checkout. Prior to that in September 2010, she was tricked. Her friend called with a job offer too curious to refuse: a cruisey-gig as a dementia carer for a rich old man in Kenya. All expenses-paid, plenty of free time to travel or do some freelance reporting. There seemed no good reason to say no... so she got on a plane. I Built No Schools in Kenya is the almost-entirely true account of that time.
Since then, Kirsten has been a researcher and presenter for Hungry Beast, as well as a researcher for The Hamster Wheel, The Hamster Decides and The Gruen Transfer. She also occasionally appears on Radio National, where she hosted Talking Shop, a weekly show about marketing and consumer behaviour.
One thing you never leave home without?
Running back inside for something I’ve forgotten.
One piece of wisdom that came in handy in Africa?
Trust your gut.
One thing you learned in Kenya?
People with the least are often the most generous.
One thing that surprised you in Kenya?
The number of frozen yoghurt stores.
One English word or phrase you love, and why?
‘Hooroo’. Such a great way to say goodbye. So insouciant. Makes me laugh every time I hear it.
One English word or phrase you loathe, and why?
‘Problematic’. It’s such a lazy criticism.
One thing you love about your job?
Speaking to people who are experts in their field and really know their shit.
One thing you love to do outside of work?
One goal you’re working towards?
Teaching my baby son (and myself) sign language as an additional form of communication.
One thing you hope readers take away from I Built No Schools in Kenya?
That there’s so much more going on in Africa – Kenya, especially – than we in the West tend to see.
The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman author on grief, happiness and her favourite comedy legend.
The Bluffs author takes us deep into the Tasmanian wilderness.
The 2019 Penguin Literary Prize winner on her inspiration, writing process and club sandwiches.
The international bestselling author on motherhood, the meaning of family and empathising with her main character.
Debut author Sam Lloyd on the chess tournament that inspired his thrilling novel, The Memory Wood,
The Island on the Edge of the World author on the inspiration behind the novel.
A conversation with Mungi Ngomane, author of Everyday Ubuntu: Living Better Together, The African Way.
The New York Times bestselling author on her inspiration for Silver Sparrow, setting her books in Atlanta and questions from readers.
The Secrets We Kept author on her namesake, travelling to Russia for research and collecting historical artifacts along the way.
The award-winning long-form features writer reveals the confronting and cathartic aspects of writing Fake.
Explore themes of surrogacy, consequences and the redemptive power of love with your reading group.
Comedian Adam Rozenbachs on how to get through an overseas trip with your parents and keep your sanity intact.