"A writer and thinker for which the world of ideas is all the richer" Australian Book Review.
Julienne van Loon has been described as a writer whose work stands apart from so much current writing for its unsentimental representation of contemporary Australian life.
She is the author of three novels and one non-fiction book. Her latest publication, The Thinking Woman, is a deliberately provocative work, blending personal reflection and extended engagement with six contemporary women thinkers whose ideas challenge orthodoxies on a range of subjects: love, fear, friendship work, play, and wonder.
Her novels include Road Story, winner of The Australian/Vogels' Award, and two other critically acclaimed works: Beneath the Bloodwood Tree, and Harmless. Her short stories and essays have appeared in The Monthly, Best Australian Stories, and Sydney Review of Books, among other publications.
From 2015-2019 she was a Vice Chancellor's Senior Research Fellow with the Writing and Publishing program at RMIT University; she now holds an ongoing appointment there as Associate Professor. A teacher of creative writing since 1993, she has taught and mentored many of Australia's most talented emerging writers. During the noughties, she directed the creative writing program at Curtin University in Perth. In 2017, she became a Fellow in Writing with the University of Iowa.
Her most recent work of fiction is the winner of the Griffith Review Novella VII Project - 'Instructions for a Steep Decline' - published in Griffith Review 66 in November 2019.
"surprising" "powerful" "insistent"
"raw, direct" "passionate" "absolutely original"
The Thinking Woman
HIGHLY COMMENDED for the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards, 2020.
"Here is an absolutely original work that may upend the certainties governing your days and nights. Reader beware"
The concerns of philosophy are important to us all, yet the voices and thoughts of women have often been missing from the conversation. In this extraordinary new book, award-winning Australian writer Julienne van Loon addresses the work of leading international women thinkers. She discusses friendship with pre-eminent philosopher Rosi Braidotti, wonder with cultural historian Maria Warner, play with celebrated novelist Siris Hustvedt, love with cultural critic Laura Kipnis, work with socialist feminist Nancy Holmstrom, and fear in relation to the work of Helen Caldicott, Rosie Batty and Julia Kristeva.
A deeply personal book, and many years in the making, The Thinking Woman prompts readers to reflect on their own everyday life, and to constructively approach the larger questions about how we live now. How might things be different?
Reviews and endorsements
"There is so much life in these conversations. Words and ideas feel hot, propulsive, uncontained in their implications. Above all else, this feeling of thinking, of thinking out loud, of thinking together, of thinking with and alongside, it’s a very special kind of high."
–Maria Tumarkin, author of Axiomatic, and winner of the Melbourne Prize for Literature, 2018
"Towards the end of van Loon’s journey through her interviews with these impressive women, she asks: where are you at? It is a question she says we should all be asking each other, not so much for our physical whereabouts — though that can be crucial when a friend is in trouble — but to enquire about our own journey of becoming in the precarious world we inhabit... The Thinking Woman does a lot to help us think about how we can, how we could, even how we should, deal with our own feelings, and find the fluidity of imagination to live thoughtfully and fully.. I await volume two."
–Drusjilla Modjeska, Inside Story
"A fascinating book that will have us all thinking, whether or not we are women."
–Anne Summers, journalist, activist and author of Damned Whores and God's Police
"It’s heartening to read a book that encourages us to challenge our assumptions. To think expansively, and to look at those who do, and how that may be relevant to our everyday. An invitation to a thoughtful life. Julienne van Loon’s The Thinking Woman is that kind of book."
– Melissa Cronenburg, Feminist Writers Festival
"The Thinking Woman, the first work of non-fiction by acclaimed novelist Julienne van Loon (whose career began with a Vogel win for her first novel, Road Story, in 2004) is a knotty, charismatic exploration of the intersection between ideas and lived experience, through six central themes...
a surprising and resonant work that cements Julienne van Loon's status as a thinking woman well worth reading and following."
–Jo Case, The Sydney Morning Herald
"Show[s] us why and how philosophy matters in achingly personal, human terms...The quiet delight of this book is not just in watching its women think but understanding how and why they slice the world the way they do; locating their ideas in a biographical context, as the unique product of a life. A woman's life."
–Beejay Silcox, The Australian
"A compelling portrait of the relationship between thinking and feeling."
–Amanda Lohrey, novelist and winner of the Patrick White Award
"The Thinking Woman is also much more than a thematically organised collection of essays that bring the dense theories of living feminist and female philosophers to a general readership. In many ways the book is also a revelation, as it marks van Loon as an extraordinary memoirist, able to draw convincing parallels between her own life and the academic arguments of her philosopher subjects without descending into cant or mawkishness. Van Loon manages to move confidently and convincingly between discussing her early love of trees and her first job working at a Dagwood Dog truck, to Julia Kristeva’s theory of subjective horror and Rosi Braidotti’s concept of bios/zoe."
–Johanna Leggatt, The Australian Book Review
"Incredible openness and honesty is the book’s great strength, and it creates a high level of trust and comfort towards our guide into (at least in my case) new philosophical worlds... Julienne van Loon’s The Thinking Woman is a book for everyone, woman or otherwise, looking for a fresh discussion of what is at the core of our 21st century lives."
–Gabrielle Bate, Good Reading.