What I'm Borrowing: Robert Lukins

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 author Robert Lukins whose debut novel was The Everlasting Sunday (UQP, 2018) and who is currently working frantically on the final edits of his new book. The Everlasting Sunday, was shortlisted for two prizes in the 2019 New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards. Robert now lives in Melbourne.

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

The most recent item that really stood out was Fluid City by Kim Dovey. It’s a non-fiction book on the transformation of Melbourne’s urban waterfront from the 1980s into the early 2000s. This description might not sound particularly thrilling but it was a fascinating story.

I borrow almost entirely non-fiction from the library and most of that ends up being about either art or architecture. They’re the books I’m most interested in and also the ones that I can rarely afford to buy from the bookshop. I tend to just aimlessly browse so that I can discover books on subjects I might otherwise have never encountered (like the surprisingly exciting history of Melbourne’s late twentieth-century waterfront urban planning).

And of course I returned it on time! How dare you.    

Robert's novel The Everlasting Sunday is set in an English boys' home during an icy winter in 1962

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 but it would have been from the Maroochydore Public Library on the Sunshine Coast. My brother and sister are quite a bit older than me and they both worked at that library as their first part-time job while they were in high school. My mum and dad worked in an office directly next door to the library so after I finished my day at primary school I would spend every afternoon in the library waiting for all my family to finish work. So I was something of a permanent fixture at that place and I spent my time exploring all its corners and shelves (that all seemed very mysterious and exciting).

Much like I do now, I would just browse through the place, fairly randomly taking down books that seemed interesting. I would take myself to the beanbags in the corner of the kids’ section and read away the afternoon. The library and its free and easy access to what seemed like the whole wide world played a big part in shaping the adult I became and certainly steered me onto the path of becoming a writer.

I am pleased to say that when the time came for me to get my first part-time job the Maroochydore Public Library didn’t let me down. I’m a library guy, through-and-through.

Library guy Lukins

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

My son is five years old and not as-of-yet much of a reader. He’d much rather be pretending to be a Velociraptor. So being able to take him to the library to choose out his own new books to read goes some way to grabbing his attention. He just grabbed three new books today, all on dinosaurs, naturally. 

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

I read a lot of contemporary Australian titles so whenever anyone notices any of that on my bookshelf I’m always keen to push it on them. I know I’ve lent out Ellena Savage’s Blueberries and Jess Hill’s See What You Made Me Do at least a couple of times each. Two very different books but both brilliant.     

Robert at home, tapping away at his new masterpiece

About Robert Lukins

Robert Lukins is a reader and writer whose debut novel, The Everlasting Sunday, was published in 2018. His arts and music writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, The Big Issue, Crikey, Overland, and other odd places. The Everlasting Sunday was nominated for several awards including the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, the UTS Glenda Adams New Writing Award, the Voss Literary Prize and the ALS Gold Medal for Literature. Barring unforeseen or continuing global catastrophes, his second novel will be published in early 2022.

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