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Alice Pung: Laurinda – In Conversation with Tim Watts MP – Review

It was like we were watching the first steps of what could become a lifelong friendship. A particularly Australian friendship. The Alice and Tim Show came to the Williamstown Literary Festival. It was worth every cent of the entry fee.

The Upstairs Studio in the Williamstown Town Hall lends itself as an intimate space. It lent itself perfectly to a conversation that ensued on a winter’s afternoon. All that was missing was an open fire and perhaps a brandy.

Alice Pung, the impossibly young-looking award winning writer, lawyer and mother came to talk about her latest book Laurinda. Sponsoring the session and expertly guiding the conversation, came Tim Watts, the impossibly young-looking Federal MP, lawyer and father.

Tim has long been a great supporter of the festival and it was a sheer delight to watch him turn from a fan to a friend in the space of mere moments.

Laurinda tells the story of a scholarship student at an exclusive girls’ school. The book and the conversation about the book encompass themes of class and culture and what it’s like to be an outsider. It’s a book you could read forever. It was a conversation we could have had forever.

“Seriously, Alice,” asked Tim, the father. “Are high school girls really as bad as you’ve written?” “Worse”, came the reply. The men in the room laughed. The women in the room didn’t.

Both Alice and Tim shared snippets of their lives and the audience were both entranced and enthralled by the stories they told. In that little room on a winter’s afternoon we were taken to an Australia that was filled with all of the great things Australia can be. Warm, friendly and multicultural.

Alice Pung Tim Watts at Willy Lit Fest 2015 Tim Watts photo


Maria Haughey