Time Out Melbourne

Griffiths' voyages to far-flung communities result in books that take the reader on both a geographical and introspective journey. She appears at four Writers Festival events

Have your experiences of other ways of living made it difficult to settle in the UK?
For me, my journeys were purposive, and all with the view to writing, so I was never looking for a sense of permanent home elsewhere. I see the writer's role as being a messenger, and that involves moving between places, literally or metaphorically, and bringing back ideas, thoughts, or stories.

Does writing about ways in which to rear and not to rear children invite a lot of indignant dialogue?
Kith is not a parenting manual, it's about the big picture: how societies as a whole treat their children, and written as literature. When it is read in that spirit, the reactions have been tremendous, including from Philip Pullman, John Berger and KT Tunstall. If, though, people misread it as being a book on childcare, the response can be really daft.

What's one thing you hope to do while in Melbourne?
I have some old friends near Melbourne, and I would love to see them. I'd very much want to meet the Australian editor of [Griffiths' 2011 book] A Love Letter from a Stray Moon, in part because he's one of the few people who has a real passion for Latin, not in some old fuddyduddy way but because he hears the depths of etymology in knowing Latin.

What are you reading at the moment?
The Carpenter's Pencil, an incredible novel from the Galician author Manuel Rivas.

Whose writing on the topic of shamanism and nomadism do you enjoy?
Alexandra David-Neel is fascinating on shamanism, intrigued and savvy. Also I adore the poetry of Nils-Aslak Valkeapaa, the Sami shaman and musician. Isabelle Eberhardt is for me the best writer on nomadism.

Jay Griffiths appears at Natural Connections. Also Big Ideas: Childhood and the West. Also Why I Read. Also Finding Meaning.

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