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Literary Olympics: the best (auto)biographies of 2020-2021

The Book Olympics continue and today we are talking about autobiographies and biographies.

This category is open for books published in 2020-2021 and fall under the category of either autobiography, biography, or memoir. Autobiographies are larger works, where the author chronicles their whole life. Biographies are written by a third party who chronicle the whole life of (usually) a historical figure. A memoir is written by an author who generally wants to chronicle a shorter part of their life – generally this can be a particularly important part of their life, but does not always tell their whole life story.

To the Auto/biographies and Memoirs!

BRONZE – Vida: A Woman For Our Time by Jacqueline Kent (2020)

The bronze medal goes to the biography of Vida Goldstein, written by Jacqueline Kent. This biography chronicles the life and work of Victorian suffragette, Vida Goldstein. I found this an extremely interesting book to read. The suffrage movement from the U.S. and the U.K. is well researched and there are many books about the women and men involved in it. I found it extremely important to read this book about the history of suffrage in Australia – in particular how white suffrage was won in Australia. Goldstein was born in rural Victoria, and worked towards suffrage for women and also general social reform. She as anti-war and also was one of the first women to run in parliament when it was allowed in 1903.

SILVER – A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and Vision for the Future by David Attenborough (2020)

This is part autobiography, part climate activism, part social commentary from the famous nature documentary maker, David Attenborough. This autobiography is also a really amazing (albeit slightly depressing) Netflix documentary. Attenborough write about his life set along a timeline of world deforestation. It is a sobering read to see how much humans have irrevocably damaged the earth and its flora and fauna. I enjoyed how easily accessible Attenborough’s writing is, and while it feels like a very heavy topic he also offer solutions and hope for a greener and safer future for all. That is why he has earnt a silver medal this year.

GOLD – Top End Girl by Miranda Tapsell (2020)

Hands down, Miranda Tapsell, Larrakia woman actress/writer extraordinaire wins gold! Her memoir,Top End Girl talks about her career as an indigenous Australian actress, fighting the prejudices against dark-skinned women in the film and theatre industry, and filming her sensational film Top End Wedding. Tapsell is an amazing storyteller and I honestly hope that she comes out with more books soon. This was such an important book to read, especially since the performing arts are suffering so much in these horrible lockdown times.

Stay tuned for the winners of the Non-fiction, Australian literature, and Poetry categories still to come. May the best book win! Who would you give gold to for 2020-2021? As always, share the reading love.