Ramona Koval is a writer, journalist, broadcaster and editor. She is also an Honorary Fellow at the Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne.
Broadcasting for ABC Radio National she presented The Book Show 2006 – 2011, Books and Writing 1995 – 2005 and on ABC 774 Melbourne, Drive on RN 1993 – 1994, and The Ramona Koval Program 1988 – 1992. Her programs were broadcast internationally through Radio Australia, and podcast on the internet.
She has written reviews, features and columns for newspapers including The Age and The Weekend Australian, writing on issues of the day. She has made documentary features for radio, which have been broadcast both by the ABC and the BBC.
Transcripts of her interviews have appeared in international newspapers, magazines and in digital form, and she has been a guest interviewer at International literary festivals in Edinburgh, Montreal, Berlin, Cheltenham, Auckland, Wellington and all over Australia.
She is the author of a novel, Samovar (Heinemann), of collections of interviews, most recently Speaking Volumes – conversations with remarkable writers (Scribe, also translated into Chinese and Portuguese), of a Jewish cook book, Jewish Cooking, Jewish Cooks (New Holland) and she edited The Best Australian Essays 2011 and The Best Australian Essays 2012 (Black Inc)
She has written introductions for the Text Classics publications of Helen Garner’s Cosmo Cosmolino (2012) and Elizabeth Harrower’s The Catherine Wheel (2014).
She has worked as an academic at RMIT University and the University of Melbourne, and before that as a microbiologist and geneticist.
She was Staff Elected Director of the ABC Board ( 2002 – 2006), and has been a judge of the Walkley Awards for Journalism, and the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. She has served on the board of the Australian Book Review and was a member of the International Advisory Board of the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival in Montreal, Canada. In 2001 she held a Goethe Institute Fellowship in Berlin and was a writer-in-residence at The Australia Centre, Berlin.
Praise for Ramona Koval
‘I was hooked on Ramona Koval’s quest to determine
her paternal origins in Bloodhound. Here the patient scientist,
the dutiful daughter and the nosy journalist morph into
a generous memoirist.’ Clare Wright
‘A revealing and remarkably candid journey.’
‘Her accessibly written forays into the science of DNA and
familial lineages, and what makes us who we are, are beautifully
intertwined with her meditations on identity and belonging…
An important reminder that history should never be forgotten.’
The line of questioning to which she subjects herself reminds
me less of her gracious interviews and more of Helen Garner’s
steady self-analysis in the service of truth in all its contradiction
and ambivalence…Koval’s painstaking collection of evidence
and tracing of clues is as compelling as fiction.’
‘By the Book takes us on intriguing journeys…The excitement
with which Koval still approaches each new book, plunging
in “head first, heart deep”, furnishes the last words of this
urbane and enlightening work.’ Australian
‘Quintessentially Koval; warm, informed and
extremely readable.’ Canberra Times
‘The voice is easily recognisable as the one we know
from her decades in radio: generous, warm and fearless.’
‘The last chapters of By the Book reveal the quality of mind
that made her such a brilliant interviewer, as much at home
with scientists and travel writers as with novelists and poets.’
‘A shining presence in the world of literature…
Her voice is always recognisable, invigorating, familiar
to us and greatly loved.’ Helen Garner
Her latest book is A Letter to Layla: Travels to our Deep Past and Near Future (Text) 2020 to be published on September 29th 2020
Her previous books are Bloodhound: Searching for my Father (Text) (2015)
and By the Book: A reader’s guide to life (Text) (2012)
You can find her latest interviews in The Saturday Paper here.
On Bloodhound: Searching for my Father, Text Publishing
An intriguing and emotional journey, at times the memoir reads like a highly acclaimed literary mystery as Koval enlightens us in a very warm congenial tone. Identity and belonging and eventually the truth. Unputdownable, I savoured every page. A truly evocative read. Clare Calvet, Nightlife, ABC Local Radio.
‘The book reads smoothly, it flows along from mood to mood, full of wit and beauty and grace.’
‘Her voice is always recognisable, invigorating, familiar to us and greatly loved: the voice of [a] highly literate woman.’
” …By the Book: A Reader’s Guide to Life [is] an irresistible study of the symbiotic relationship,for the bookish, between life and books. The subject matter ranges from the simplicities of childhood reading to the complexities of interviewing great writers. The voice is easily recognisable as the one we know from her decades in radio: generous, warm, and fearless.”
Kerryn Goldsworthy, Books of the Year, Australian Book Review, December 2012 – January 2013, No.347
“The excitement with which Koval still approaches each new book, plunging in “head first, heart deep”, furnishes the last words of this urbane and enlightening work of her own.”
Peter Pierce editor of the Cambridge History of Australian Literature, reviewing By the Book: A Reader’s Guide to Life, for The Australian, 27 October 2012
This is a terrific read for any bibliophile, recommended especially for anyone who loved Francis Spufford’s The Child That Books Built, The Virago Book of Women Travellers, Jane Smiley’s Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel, or any of Nick Hornby’s reading diaries.
Nudge Reviewer Rating: