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Half the Perfect World with Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell (Cancelled)

27 May @ 10:00 am - 11:30 am


Winner of the 2019 Non-Fiction Prime Minister’s Literary Award, Half the Perfect World tells the story of Australian writers George Johnston and Charmian Clift and their extraordinary experience at the centre of a post-war international artist community that formed on the remote and beautiful Greek island of Hydra for a near decade after 1955.

Most famously, this ‘colony’ included renowned Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian partner Marianne Ihlen. Half the Perfect World uses previously unseen photographs and correspondence to reveal the lives and relationships of this famously bohemian and libertine community. The book traces the promise of a creative life that drew many of them to the island, and documents the fracturing of the community as it came under pressure from personal ambitions and rivalries and wider social changes. It is also a story that culminates in the triumphant return of George Johnston to Australia in 1964 to coincide with the publication of his classic novel My Brother Jack – but even this success carries a heavy price.

About the authors:

Tanya Dalziell, with Paul Genoni, is the co-author of Half the Perfect World: Writers, Dreamers and Drifters on Hydra, 1955-1964, which won the 2019 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction. Her most recent book is Gail Jones: Word, Image, Ethics (forthcoming 2020). She is also the co-editor (with Karen Welberry) of Cultural Seeds: Essays on the Work of Nick Cave (2009) and Telling Stories: Australian Life and Literature, 1935-2012, with Paul Genoni. She works in English and Literary Studies at the University of Western Australia.

Paul Genoni is an Adjunct Associate Professor with the School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry at Curtin University. With Tanya Dalziell he is the co-author of Half the Perfect World: Writers, Dreamers and Drifters on Hydra, 1955-1964 (2018); and co-editor of Telling Stories: Australian Life and Literature, 1935-2012 (2013). He is co-editor with Susan Sheridan of Thea Astley’s Fictional Worlds (2006).


27 May
10:00 am - 11:30 am
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City of Vincent Library
(08) 9273 6090


City of Vincent Library
99 Loftus Street
Leederville, WA 6007 Australia
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