- THE DOROTHY HEWETT AWARD
Do Oysters Get Bored? A curious life
A baby cries; a mother exits, leaving her family behind; a child finally begins to talk; a father stops breathing.
Rozanna Lilley is a social anthropologist, autism researcher, and Oscar’s mum. Oscar is on the autism spectrum, which means he has a particular way of being in the world and understanding the lives of those around him.
As Rozanna and her husband Neil navigate Oscar’s childhood, the author reflects upon her own childhood and adolescence, spent in a libertarian, self-consciously bohemian household first in Perth and then in Sydney presided over by her parents, the writers Dorothy Hewett and Merv Lilley.
Through personal essays, Lilley works through the ongoing repercussions of childhood trauma and captures Oscar’s rich inner world, as revealed through his vivid fantasy life and curious observations. Do Oysters Get Bored? is a shimmering examination of an eccentric family, the complexities of care and the toll of grief in middle-age. A set of poems serve as a counterpoint to the essays in this directly charming and surprisingly funny account of daily life.
Praise for Do Oysters Get Bored?:
Lilley’s storytelling is eloquent and touching, with her talent for poetry evident in her writing style. Her prose is complemented by a selection of poems at the end of the book. As a whole, the memoir paints a nuanced picture of the complexity of family life and the dynamic between the individuals who make up this family’s story.KATIE SUTHERLAND, THE CONVERSATION
Do Oysters Get Bored? — one of Oscar’s difficult questions and the title of the book — is a meditation on dealing with the lifelong dramas that fate can hurl at you: an autistic child, a demented father, a distant mother, a screwed-up childhood. Lilley appears endlessly patient and even serene in this gentle book, negotiating Oscar’s fears, coping with his tantrums.SIAN POWELL, THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN