Writers from the Boundless festival choose the author who has most inspired their writing and reading

I first heard and saw Merlinda Bobis at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival where she invoked the spirit of the white turtle. She cast magic with her story: the white turtle appeared at a Western writers’ festival too, creating chaos and confusion. The turtle did not discuss literary themes or writing issues, it just was — an embodiment of culture in space.

Merlinda says when you read aloud you move the very air that you breathe, and these words cannot be unspoken.

She is also a creative writing academic and has talked about the boxing-in that faces writers of colour and the Orientalising market forces that come into play when books are being sold.

She has won the Most Underrated Book of the Year Award in Australia with Fish-Hair Woman as well as the Juan C. Laya Philippine National Book Award, ironically for the same work.

I have had the privilege of having her read my book, Lady of the Realm, for which she provided a blurb. It means so much when one of your literary idols understands and gets your work.

With her latest novel Locust Girl being awarded the Christina Stead Prize, she will not be underrated in Australia for much longer I hope.

Hoa Pham is the author of eight books. Her book wave has been translated into Vietnamese. Her website is at www.hoapham.net. She is also the founder of Peril magazine, an Asian Australian online arts and culture magazine, at peril.com