Posted by: Lisa Hill | August 29, 2021

Featured author: Delia Falconer and her new essay collection Signs and Wonders

Here’s another author who’s taking up my offer to spruik the books of Australian authors whose MWF events were cancelled…


Delia Falconer is the author of three books: two novels and one work of creative non-fiction. Her first novel, the bestselling The Service of Clouds, (1997, on my TBR) was shortlisted for major literary awards including the Miles Franklin, NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, and the Australian Booksellers’ Book of the Year. Her second, The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers, (2005) was shortlisted among other awards for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Asia Pacific Division). This was followed by Sydney, (City Series, 2010) a personal history of her hometown, which was shortlisted for seven national awards in history, biography and non-fiction, and won the 2011 ‘Nib’ CAL/Waverley Library Award for outstanding research.

Delia has edited/contributed to Black Inc’s The Best Australian Stories series and their Essays series, and she edited The Penguin Book of the Road.  Her stories and essays have been included in many anthologies, including Something Special, Something Rare: Outstanding short stories by Australian women and We All Need a Witness: UTS Writers’ Anthology 2008. 

You can read her story Republic of Love in the PEN Macquarie Anthology of Australian Literature edited by Nicholas José, where you will also find Kerryn Goldsworthy’s description of her style:

Falconer’s take on the world is so profoundly word-orientated that to some extend her style is intrinsic to her vision; in any genre, her writing demonstrates intellectual sophistication and a profoundly metaphorical habit of thought.  Her fiction is stylistically rich and dense, frequently described as ‘poetic’, her critical writing is lucid and incisive, and her stories and essays have been widely anthologised.  (p.1384)


The celebrated, Walkley Award-winning author on how global warming is changing not only our climate but our culture. Beautifully observed, brilliantly argued and deeply felt, these essays show that our emotions, our art, our relationships with the generations around us – all the delicate networks that make us who we are – have already been transformed.

In Signs and Wonders, Falconer explores how it feels to live as a reader, a writer, a lover of nature and a mother of small children in an era of profound ecological change.

Building on Falconer’s two acclaimed essays, ‘Signs and Wonders’ and the Walkley Award-winning ‘The Opposite of Glamour’, Signs and Wonders is a pioneering examination of how we are changing our culture, language and imaginations along with our climate. Is a mammoth emerging from the permafrost beautiful or terrifying? How is our imagination affected when something that used to be ordinary – like a car windscreen smeared with insects – becomes unimaginable? What can the disappearance of the paragraph from much contemporary writing tell us about what’s happening in the modern mind?

Scientists write about a ‘great acceleration’ in human impact on the natural world. Signs and Wonders shows that we are also in a period of profound cultural acceleration, which is just as dynamic, strange, extreme and, sometimes, beautiful. Ranging from an ‘unnatural’ history of coal to the effect of a large fur seal turning up in the park below her apartment, this book is a searching and poetic examination of the ways we are thinking about how, and why, to live now.


‘Only the finest of writers can hope to convey the mercurial nature of the times we are living though: the sense of slippage; of terror and beauty. Falconer is such a writer. Signs and Wonders is an essential collection.’ Sophie Cunningham, author of City of Trees

‘Delia Falconer is one of the best writers working today, and in Signs and Wonders she demonstrates everything that makes her writing so necessary. Brave, beautiful, and breathtaking in its elegance and intelligence, it is, quite simply, a marvel.’ James Bradley

‘Scintillating. Delia Falconer is at the peak of her powers as a critic, and as an observer of the natural world. Signs and Wonders looks outward from Sydney, and from literature, to trace the contours of our environmental moment.’ Rebecca Giggs, author of Fathoms


  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia (September 29, 2021)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781760857820

You can pre-order the book from Readings and other good bookstores.  You can also register at Readings to hear Delia talk about Signs and Wonders, online.  (I’ve already booked in.)  A big bouquet to Readings for the wealth of online events they are supporting — you can show your thanks and support to them and other indie bookstores doing it tough in Lockdown by buying your books from them: support Australian indie booksellers!


  1. Hi Lisa, I am looking forward to reading this essay. I have reserved it at my library. Because of lock down I am spending more time outside enjoying nature. I loved her Service of Clouds.


  2. I had not heard of her. However when you mentioned she edited Penguin Book of the Road I got excited. I didn’t know they had a road book. So you have probably steered me in a different direction.


  3. […] may remember that I featured the author Delia Falconer and her new book of essays Signs and Wonders after the Melbourne Writers Festival was cancelled, […]


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