Sophie Cunningham Interview

12 Nov, 2014 by

Sophie Cunningham Interview

Towards the end of 1974, the Northern Hemisphere had been experiencing one of its coldest winters on record. When the resultant low pressure system made its way, slowly, to the equator, and encountered the warm waters there, it began to form into what would be one of the worst disasters in Australian history. Cyclone Tracy made its way slowly, inexorably, towards Australia, and then on Christmas Eve, made a sudden 90 degree turn towards the city of Darwin. When it made landfall that night, Tracy killed 71 people and levelled the city, leaving some 80% of its population homeless.

Sophie Cunningham has previously written two acclaimed novels, Geography and Bird, and the non-fiction work Melbourne. She’s the former editor of Meanjin, and is the co-founder and deputy chair of the Stella Prize. Sophie was a young girl, living in Melbourne at the time Tracy was hitting up north, but she was shocked by the images she saw in the newspapers reporting the devastation. That impact has remained over the years, and so she was drawn to examine the story around Tracy: what happened during the cyclone itself and, perhaps more importantly, what happened after. It’s the topic of her latest work: Warning: The Story of Cyclone Tracy.

Sophie joined Sky Kirkham to talk about the cyclone, its political impact, and the overwhelming power of sound. Originally broadcast 30/10/2014. Warning is out through Text Publishing.

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