What I'm Borrowing: Mirandi Riwoe

What I’m Borrowing is a blog series exploring our affection for libraries, loans, and sharing great reads. Each post we ask a Queensland writer and reader to tell us about their recent lending-loves.

This month we welcome award-winning author Mirandi Riwoe. Mirandi's most recent book is Stone Sky Gold Mountain. Lately she has been working on her forthcoming novel, which is set in Indonesia during the 1940s. For years Mirandi has researched her books right here at State Library of Queensland, including poring over lots of resources for Stone Sky Gold Mountain. Now, as she turns her attention to writing her next novel, Mirandi is back at State Library to borrow and return books (just a day or two overdue).  

Mirandi recently won the inaugural 2020 ARA Historical Novel Prize for Stone Sky Gold Mountain

Tell us about the last thing you borrowed from the library. How did you discover it? Did you return it on time?

I’ve just returned Troubled Pleasures – Dutch Colonial Literature from the East Indies, 1600 – 1950 (E M Beekman), which I’ve had out since before Brisbane’s initial lockdown! I did manage to re-borrow it a few times but, I have to admit, it was a little late by the time I got it back to the library. I am currently in the research period for my next novel, set in Java during the WWII period, and I read Troubled Pleasures to learn more about Dutch colonial literature set in Indonesia. I’ve just borrowed several books on Indonesian wayang puppetry because one of my characters has a keen interest in the art.

Mirandi returning her books to the Infozone at State Library

Do you remember your first library card? Can you describe the library you visited as a child?

I don’t remember my first library card (which I would have lost almost immediately anyway) – I only remember those yellow, lined cards that used to be inserted into pockets at the back of the book, listing who had borrowed the book before you. The first library I visited as a youngster was the Garden City Library with my parents. I remember sliding from the searing hot seats of our Ford Falcon to take Papa’s hand to walk into the library, a cool and grey place with shelves and shelves of books! What a treasure trove!

Mirandi returning a copy of 'Javanese Shadow Plays, Javanese Selves' to State Library

What other items are you, and people in your house, borrowing right now?

My teen daughter is reading Pride and Prejudice right now. She’s been working her way through the classics, and writers and philosophers such as Sartre, Woolf and de Beauvoir. A far cry from the Sidney Sheldons and Shirley Conrans I was reading at her age! Next, she wants to read Emma, so we can’t watch any of the film adaptations until that’s done. 

Thinking about your own bookshelf, what is your favourite book to lend out from home?

Usually it’s favourite books that you lend out to others so sometimes, unfortunately, you never see them again! But over the years the one novel I have given to each of my daughters, and would happily buy anew for anyone else, is The Handmaid’s Tale. Actually, now that I think of it, I received my first copy of this novel from my own mother.

Mirandi's much-loved copy of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and a newer version

Mirandi Riwoe is the author of Stone Sky Gold Mountain, which won the Queensland Literary Award for Fiction and the inaugural ARA Historical Novel Prize. Her novella The Fish Girl won Seizure’s Viva la Novella V and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. Her work has appeared in Best Australian Stories, Meanjin, Review of Australian Fiction, Griffith Review and Best Summer Stories. Mirandi has a PhD in Creative Writing and Literary Studies (QUT).

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Thanks for this awesome post!

Glad you liked Mirandi's excellent answers! Thanks for reading.