Paul Gray

Writer in Melbourne, Australia

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Et verbum caro factum est. I think this is true, and on the assumption that the world is indeed built by words, I have been a full-time wordsmith since leaving Australia’s Monash University with an Honours degree in English Literature, philosophy and languages in 1983.

Professionally, I have been a non-fiction author, a politics writer for small and large publications, a radio broadcaster, and still today, a speechwriter working closely with the leader of a major Australian research university. I read and listen. I particularly like Hannah Arendt, WG Sebald, Bruce Springsteen, John Henry Newman and the theologian Frank Sheed, and discussing them. I do not know whether Count Basie or Duke Ellington was the best ever jazz composer, but feel it was one of them. Did it exist, I would be a paid-up member of Garrison Keillor’s Professional Organisation of English Majors (POEM).

Less professionally, I write fiction. Short stories. Never published, sometimes broadcast. Here I occupy space in a rural Australian community called Reedtown, full of richly interesting people who react to world events and sometimes shape them in tiny ways. Sadly, neither town nor people are real.

Once, for real, I travelled to Oxford University to meet the author of Main Currents of Marxism, Leszek Kolakowski. It was the northern winter of 1988-89. We discussed the potential fall of the Berlin Wall, just as the mortar was beginning to loosen. On another occasion, in Israel, the Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer kindly wrote a foreword to my book, Nightmare of the Prophet, which advances an argument about ideology, terrorism and the Western response. Such extraordinary connections seem to accompany the business of writing.

Taking a lead from many who have inspired me, lately I have delved more seriously into scholarship. I am currently researching aspects of concentration camps and immigration detention centres, with colleagues at Deakin University and elsewhere in a world built by words.