Lily Brett is an internationally acclaimed author of six novels, four collections of essays and nine volumes of poetry.
She has been the recipient of many literary awards including, the 1987 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award: C.J. Dennis Prize for Poetry for The Auschwitz Poems; the 1995 New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards: Christina Seadman Prize for Fiction for Just Like That; the 2000 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Too Many Men; and in 2014, France’s Prix Médicis Étranger for her novel, Lola Bensky.
Brett was born in Germany in 1946 to two Auschwitz survivors. When Lily was a small child, her parents migrated to Australia as refugees.
Brett started her writing career in the 60’s as a journalist for Go-Set, Australia’s most renowned rock magazine at the time and on Uptight, one of the first weekly TV shows devoted to pop music. In the summer of 1967, she traveled to America to cover the Monterey International Pop Festival. She interviewed scores of musicians, some of whom went on to become legends, such as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Mick Jagger.
In 1989, Lily Brett moved to New York City where she still lives with her husband, Australian painter, David Rankin.
The stage adaptation of her novel, You Gotta Have Balls, titled Chuzpe in German, starring Otto Schenck, opened at the Kammerspiele Theatre in Vienna in November 2012 and was also staged at the Kemmerspiele Theatre in Hamburg in January 2014. In November 2016, the stage adaptation opened at Theatre AM Kurfűrsterdamm in Berlin. A television movie of Chuzpe starring Dieter Hallervorden aired on German television in September 2015.
Brett’s work frequently explores the lives of Holocaust survivors and their children, the experiences of modern women and life in New York City.
Photo by Frida Sterenberg.