Gail Jones

Gail Jones was born and grew up in Western Australia. She studied at the University of Western Australia, where she later also worked as a lecturer in English, communication studies and cultural studies. Following that she was appointed to the University of Western Sydney, where she has since been teaching as a Professor at the Writing and Society Research Centre.Her literary debut came in 1992 with the volume of short stories »The House of Breathing«. Her much-praised second novel »Sixty Lights« (2004) portrays a fictitious female pioneer of photography in the Victorian era. While this episodically structured novel is dedicated to very ephemeral, visually focused figures, in »Dreams of Speaking« (2006) her focus is on a dialogue between a young scholar and a survivor of Hiroshima. The crimes committed against the Aborigine population, which were only dealt with at a very late stage, are the subject of the novel »Sorry« (2007) which takes place during and after the Second World War. »Five Bells« (2011) takes its title from a poem by Australian poet Kenneth Slessor, which serves in excerpts as an epigraph at the beginning of the book. The reflections about remembrance, time, language and transience in this elegy-like work from 1939, in particular conerning Sydney’s harbour, one of the backdrops to the narrative, are picked up on by Jones in her novel which is composed of four intertwining storylines. The narrative voice in this work registers the emotions and impressions of the characters with similarly seismographic sensibility and an extremely marked awareness of language. What is more, the extremely individual topography of the urban setting that emerges is penetrated through and through with numerous literary and cultural-historical references, some of which originate from a writing residency Jones spent in Shanghai, and some of which come from research carried out on location. With a keen knowledge of what she is writing about, but never overpoweringly, she brings the long-lost past right into the present.Jones has been awarded many prizes in Australia for her writing, which has been translated into more than a dozen languages. She has also been shortlisted for international awards, including the Dublin IMPAC (2008) and the Prix Femina Etranger (2009). She is currently a guest of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program.