3 x 3: Imbi Neeme

3 x 3 is a semi-regular column where we ask bookish people to share what is on their bookshelf.

What are three of your all time favourite books?

The Passion by Jeanette Winterson is a tale of unrequited love in the Napoleonic era, liberally sprinkled with delightful details like the webbed feet of Venetian boatmen and Napoleon’s love of roast chicken. I recently read this again after almost thirty years and loved it as much as I did the first time. Let the Great World Spin by Colm McCann. Beautifully written loosely interwoven stories, with the tightrope walker who crossed the chasm between the twin towers at its centre. I loved this book’s ambition and heart. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell is made up of distinct and very different narratives, threaded together with the lightest of touches, the breadth of this book’s imagination and reach blew my mind when I first read it. It’s definitely worth pushing past “that difficult first chapter”.


And three books you’ve enjoyed recently?

Turbulence by Thuy On. During the early stages of lock down, I treated myself to one or two of these fierce and beautiful poems each night, like a glass of fine brandy before I turned in. Almost a Mirror by Kirsten Krauth. This book was shortlisted for the 2019 Penguin Literary Prize, alongside my own, so I was delighted to see it had been published. This book is like the best 80s mixtape you’ve ever owned, as well as a gentle reflection on motherhood, unfulfilled potential and loss.  The Book of Dirt by Bram Presser. I think of this book as a layered cake, with each layer richer than the one before. Bram Presser does a deep-dive into the secrets of his family’s past and lovingly reconstructs their stories from the smallest of fragments.

What are you looking forward to reading?

No Small Shame by Christine Bell. I met Christine in a workshop last year and was immediately intrigued by this story. Set during the first world war, a woman is forced to make a decision between the life she ought to live and the life she longs to live. Mother Fault by Kate Mildenhall. I’m really looking forward to reading this book when it comes out in September. It’s a literary thriller set in a way-too-possible future where the main female protagonist has to risk everything to keep her children safe. Too much lip by Melissa Lucashenko. In the light of recent world events, I’ve realised I need to be a better reader and ally and have resolved to read more Australian writers of colour. I’ve been really wanting to read this book ever since I heard Lucashenko on the literary podcast The Garret, so it feels like the obvious place to start.

Portrait of Imbi Neeme © Miles Standish.

Imbi Neeme is a recovering blogger, novelist and compulsive short story writer. Her work The Spill was awarded the 2019 Penguin Literary Prize.

She was also the recipient of the 2019 Henry Handel Richardson Fellowship at Varuna for excellence in Short Story Writing. Her short fiction has won prizes in the 2019 Newcastle Short Story Awards, the 2018 Boroondara Literary Awards, and has been shortlisted for the 2018 Peter Carey Short Story Award.

She blogged for many years at Not Drowning, Mothering, which won the 2010 Bloggies award for best Australian/New Zealand Weblog. Imbi lives in Melbourne with her partner, kids and largely indifferent pets.

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