Root & Branch: Essays on inheritance
Paperback | May 2022 | NewSouth | 9781742237312 | 288pp | 210x135mm | GEN | AUD$29.99, NZD$34.99
** Winner, Victoria Premier’s Literary Awards 2023, Non-fiction **
I have come to see that I am an argumentative person who is frequently convinced that my angle, my take, on a matter, is the right one. This kind of delusional self-belief is not rewarded in many other spheres of social life, so I write essays.
There is a Turkish saying that one’s home is not where one is born, but where one grows full – doğduğun yer değil, doyduğun yer. Exquisitely written, Root & Branch unsettles neat descriptions of inheritance, belonging and place. Eda Gunaydin’s essays ask: what are the legacies of migration, apart from loss? And how do we find comfort in where we are?
‘In Root & Branch, Eda Gunaydin’s essays showcase the fine craft of a writer whose seemingly dispassionate observations set a wide stage for astute, deeply considered reflections on place, people, politics and power. It takes immense skill to weave personal narratives seamlessly into broader conversations and complex social commentary. To do so in an effortless manner, as Gunaydin has accomplished, is pure alchemy. This is a book I will revisit many times for both the beauty of its language and for the generous opportunities to think and learn alongside the writer. A moving, thought-provoking and truly stunning debut.’ — Eileen Chong
‘Root & Branch is a book of autobiographical essays that pay careful attention to, in Gunaydin’s words, “the materiality of living”: sore feet, varicose veins, fast food and other everyday events in working-class life. It is also funny, self-deprecating, self-dramatising and hopeful: a searching and multi-faceted debut.’ — Anwen Crawford
‘Julia Kristeva once wrote that “You are a genius to the extent that you are able to challenge the sociohistorical conditions of your identity.” Identity not in its censual use, i.e. sex, class, religion; identity rather as the set of ideologies we carry with us: the spirit of an age, the normative practices of personhood, language and narrative, and the bromides of accepted wisdom. The Eda of Gunaydin’s formidable essays is shrewd, compassionate, revolutionary, and yes, unmistakably a genius. This book is the exorcism I’ve been waiting for.’ — Ellena Savage
‘Gunaydin’s work, and it is work, lands with a deceptive lightness on the page and its readers. Its weight grows on us over time – reminders of the daily inheritance of trauma, responsibility and structures over which we can only sometimes wrest control. Forget vital or necessary. Root & Branch is knowing and real. In every essay, Eda circles something much bigger than the sum of her experience and thought, as both witness and participant, in which we as readers are left guessing our place.’ — Alison Whittaker
‘What has always struck me about Eda Gunaydin’s essays is their remarkable and balanced movement, the deft way they bring together a fierce intelligence and political consciousness with a depth and complexity of feeling, as well as a wicked sense of humour and of the absurd. They are forthright and passionate, but also playful, cynical and sharp, and keenly interested in all of the ordinary ways that extraordinary historical and social forces are felt across our lives, and what it means to both bear and resist their weight.’ — Fiona Wright
‘Gunaydin is a gifted essayist driven by an honest desire to see society transformed, “to alter the conditions of everyday existence, so that there’s nothing that we need to be saved from”. Gunaydin’s ability to combine a searing intellect with wit and ingenuity is breathtaking.’ — Books+Publishing
‘Important and significant. Much more so than most other books, Root & Branch has the potential to leave a unique, lasting impression on the reader.’ — Roland Leikauf, Australian Maritime Museum's Curator of Post-War Immigration, Signals magazine