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MUBA18 spotlight: ‘Gwen’ by Goldie Goldbloom

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Gwen-Goldie Goldbloom-Fremantle Press
Credit: Fremantle Press

The Small Press Network is pleased to name Gwen by Goldie Goldbloom as one of the shortlisted books for the 2018 Most Underrated Book Award.

Gwen tells the story of Gwendolen Mary John, the lesser known sister of artist Augustus John. After an encounter with famed artist Auguste Rodin, Gwen makes a pilgrimage from London to France with her companion Dorelia. Against a backdrop of rising anti-semitism, Goldbloom layers memory and imagination as Gwen strives to assert her place in the world.

From the judges:

‘John’s story, as Goldbloom tells it, is about carving a place as a legitimate artist, not just as an artist’s muse. John studied at the famous Slade School of Art yet she struggled to gain the same attention as her brother, the painter Augustus John, whose artistic personality and obsessions were more acceptable because of his sex… The contrast between Augustus and Gwen is a demonstration of the skewed nature of art circles at the turn of the 20th century for women. The novel is an original and compelling portrait of an artist who strived to make her mark on history.’

Goldie Goldbloom-Fremantle Press
Credit: Fremantle Press

Goldie Goldbloom is an Australian author living in Chicago, where she is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Northwestern University. Her work has been published in the Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner and Meanjin journals, among others, and in 2008 she received the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ Novel Award for Paperbark Shoe. In 2014 she was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in Literature, which allowed her to write Gwen.

Speaking to Fremantle Press, Goldbloom said that ‘As a painter, Gwen John was always underrated. Actually, if she was going to win an award, it seems awfully fitting that it’s the most underrated. Karmic even. But of course, I’m delighted! And I think Gwen would be quietly chuffed too.’


  • The 2018 Most Underrated Book Award (sponsored by the Australian Booksellers Association) will be presented by Louise Swinn on the evening of Thursday, 22 November 2018, during the SPN’s Independent Publishing Conference. This free event will be hosted by the Wheeler Centre. Bookings can be made here.
  • More information about Gwen can be found at Fremantle Press.
  • To access a sample chapter of Gwen and read more about Goldie Goldbloom, visit her website.

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