Ramona Koval  also conducts public interviews, moderates conversations, chairs symposia, conducts masterclasses in interviewing and gives lectures. For information please contact :

Alice Lewinsky at Text Publishing +61 (0) 403 837 351  or

Unfortunately I don’t have the time to give advice on publishing or to assess manuscripts but here’s a link to the Text website where they accept unsolicited manuscripts:

Responses to Ramona Koval and By the Book: A reader’s guide to life

‘She’s a shining presence in the world of literature, here in Australia and right across the globe.’

‘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.’

 Helen Garner

” …By the Book: A Reader’s Guide to Life [is] an irresistible study of the symbiotic relationship,for te bookish, between life nd 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, 27th  October 2012 

“Dame Margaret strode on to the platform accompanied by Ramona Koval, (an exemplary presenter through sparkling, intelligent conversation with a humorous touch.)

Vivien  Devlin, Edinburgh Guide, Festival reviews, conversation with Dame Margaret Drabble,  Edinburgh International Book Festival, 16th August 2014

“Thank you once again for your superb presentation at our Writer’s Evening. It is obvious from the reaction of audience members, then and now, that they were truly enchanted by the wonderful journey on which you took them.”

Rosemary Abbott, Director of Learning Resources, Loreto Mandeville Hall, Toorak

“Just wanted to thank you again for the interviewing masterclass last month. I learned a lot that day from the other participants and from the examples and advice you gave us, and especially from the way you demonstrated, all day, how to frame and ask questions that took the discussion to interesting places. I’m inspired now about the possibilities of interviews…”

Rowena Lennox, Writer and Editor, attended The Monthly Masterclass in Interviewing


  1. Joe Bentata · · Reply

    On September 11th (last year) the Melbourne Age published a small article showing you holding a round cake tin and providing some details. At the time I kept the article and said to myself “I will write to her”.
    Today I decided to clear up my “non-virtual” desktop and decided to write. Your article suggest that the tin comes from France. I was born in Egypt and my mother purchased the same tin in Cairo. It was always referred to as “la casserole palestinienne” simply because it was made in Palestine and imported into Egypt before the creation of the state of Israel.
    Eventually we joined the ranks of Jewish refugees from the Arab lands and had to depart from this country in 1956.
    This cake tin still resides in our kitchen and is occasionally used by my wife.
    Do you have the black cylindrical pipe that was used to improve the heating process and virtually converted the saucepan into an oven?
    Joseph Claude Bentata – Melbourne

    1. Hi Joe,
      All I have is the cylindrical cake tin you see in the photo. It has ceramic handles.
      My mother was in Paris for four years after the war before she came to Australia and
      this is where she bought it. Unfortunately she has been dead for almost thirty-five years and
      so I can’t ask her anything else. I don’t remember any cylindrical black pipe, but maybe
      I wasn’t paying attention.

  2. Ramona. Thank you thank you for your new book!! It is 4 am in the morning and I can’t put it down. God bless you! Please cone to y our writers festival next year! By the book is delicious Angela Altair Williamstown Literary Festival. Sorry about spelling but using my iPhone and my eyesight is poor.

    1. Oh Angela, what a lovely image – you reading my book at 4am. I’m sorry you couldn’t sleep, but I’m happy you’re enjoying the book.
      Re coming to the Festival, contact my publicist at Text, Jane Novak, ( who knows everything about my commitments for next year.

  3. Libby Porter · · Reply

    Dear Ramona, save me please. I am searching for a book from one of your old RN interviews on fly fishing as an allegory for life. A memorable interview – obviously, for it remained with me. A lovely young man who is devoted to both fly fishing and literature (bless him!) has entered our family, and doesn’t yet know it, but he needs this book.
    Many thanks. Libby, Canberra

    1. Was it “Salmon fishing in the Yemen” by Paul Torday? I didn’t do the interview but I think it was commissioned as a review or an interview from a producer at the time. Might that be the one?

  4. Libby Porter · · Reply

    Amazing that you could reply so soon. Thank you! No, you definitely did the interview, and it may have been Catch and Release: Trout Fishing and the Meaning of Life by Mark Kingwell, a philosopher/fisherperson….I’ve been doing some hunting round since I wrote….does that ring a bell? This one was released in 2006, so the timing would seem about right. Libby

    1. No, sorry, didn’t interview him. Hope you find it!

  5. Libby Porter · · Reply

    Thanks anyway for your thoughts , Ramona. Much appreciated. Loved the reviews of the new book, by the way…it’s on my Christmas wish list! (Don’t worry, if there’s anything left over on the list, it’s usually moi who buys it, so it’s a sure thing.)

  6. Hi Ramona
    My name is Sue Westwood and I’m the Business Manager at the Athenaeum Library in Collins Street Melbourne. I’m wondering if you would be interested in speaking about By the Book at the Library (Melbourne’s oldest) early in 2013? We have some very committed readers (and dedicated fans of yours) at the Library who would be very keen to hear your thoughts on reading. Best wishes Sue

    1. Hi Sue,
      Thanks for you note. Jane Novak from Text Publishing is looking after all my speaking engagements so it’s best to contact her at

  7. Dear Ramona,
    I work for a not for profit organisation that promotes reading called The Big Book Club. We have a website with 3 books of the month and further recommended reads. By the Book is one of our books for March – see and our facebook page
    Kind regards,

    1. Hi Annie,
      I’m very pleased that you’ve selected my book for The Big Book Club.
      with warmest thanks,

      1. That’s a pleasure Ramona. I also saw the query above regarding the book on fly fishing. I thought it might be Fishing the River of Time by
        Tony Taylor (Text) – At age eighty, Tony Taylor journeys from Sydney to British Columbia to fish the Cowichan River with his eight-year-old grandson, Ned. This trip is an opportunity for Tony to return to a landscape that has had a profound effect on his life and his way of thinking, and to share this place with his grandson.
        As Tony teaches Ned the patient art of fly-fishing, a lifetime of memories, thoughts and stories unspool in peaceful reflections by the water’s edge.

  8. Beatrice Day · · Reply

    I caught your interview at Adelaide writer’s festival this year on abc tv.
    Enjoyed hearing about your background – childhood experiences and reading experiences. I did not know of you, however, I will look out for your latest book ‘By the Book’. I was intrigued that your reading experiences were limited to golden books as a child – mine was limited to comic books – I will never forget the time my girlfriend’s mother took us to a Library – age of 10. At the age of 64 – I am starting to write! Your interview was very inspiring!

  9. Sally Wallis · · Reply

    Hi Ramona,

    I heard you speak on Wednesday – loved it and bought the book.

    I suggested you might like to read the book – The Testimony, by Halona Wagowska. Her early life was so similar to your Mother’s. They coped with it in different ways, and, obviously became two WONDERFUL people.

    1. Thanks Sally, I will chase it up.
      So pleased you enjoyed my talk.

  10. Hi, I came across your book quite by accident when I saw it on a friend’s chair and asked whether she liked it, hoping she’d lend it to me if she did. But she’d found it on a free table at work and hadn’t read it, so I got it and have read it over the last two days, eagerly, I might add. A friend started a blog about memoir,com I hope you will look at it and let me interview you for it. My work is not on the home page now, but you’ll find it in the stored editions. I suppose that I should add that what I loved about the book is how much reading informed your childhood. I had quite the opposite experience so it’s very endearing to read yours. you can find my email address on my website it’s easier to contact me that way, than through the memoir site… or I’ll get the news faster and will starting figuring out 3 or 4 questions to ask you. I hope you’ll agree…I find tis book enchanting. (I live in Massachusetts, so that book came quite a way and is an Australian edition in lieu of gallies..)

  11. Dear Ramona
    Sometime years ago, I downloaded an interview you had with Eliot Weinberger at the Melbourne Writers Festival, to which I have only just listened. It was very enjoyable and reminded me of all the very interesting shows you had done and also coincidently the ones done by Robert Dessaix. I took it for granted that the ABC would continue to use people who acted like witty adults and who knew something about the subjects they discussed. How childish and inept the arts programs currently running seem by comparison. Thanks for the enjoyment you have provided during your ABC tenure.

    Art Raiche

    1. Thanks Art for your kind words.

  12. Dear Ramona,

    Yesterday I made the Challah from your Jewish Cooking Jewish Cooks book. It was superb.
    So many of the recipes from that book are truly wonderful, and have become firm favourites.

    I nearly cry each time I open the book. Your stories carry deep pathos, and no matter how many times I read them, the sting in the tail gets me every time. Thank you for your evocative writing.
    I read the stories to my husband and to my daughter and sometimes to my mother.
    The book is truly one of my all-time favourite books- it is a bonus that so many of the recipes are wonderful too.

    Rachel G

    1. Dear Rachel,
      Your comment is one that any writer would be thrilled to hear.
      Thanks for taking the time to let me know your thoughts, and enjoy cooking!
      Warmest wishes,

  13. Bryan Walpole · · Reply

    Ramona, I have just spent a few days in hospital, and took “by the book” which was given to me 2 christmases ago. I read it at one sitting, it dulled the post operative pain..
    It gave me a wonderful insight into jewishness, some of the rituals, terrible history, and the forlorn plight of the post war migrants that arrived here,having lived in St Kilda for 8 years, and worked at Alfred Hospital, I now understand their quirky behaviour, mild paranoia, and why there was such a fuss when one died.
    The Bosnian Haggandah was an extraordinary taLE.
    I am sorry your science career was cut short, you show the intense curiosity and human warmth that we need in our Doctors!
    Thank you again Ramona, you are truly a treasure.

    1. Bryan, I hope you are feeling much better now and thanks so much – I appreciate your kind words about my book. I’m of course completely chuffed
      that my book has opiate effects, and glad that it simply dulls pain and didn’t send you to sleep. I’m working on my new book and you’ve no idea how much comments like this spur a writer on.

  14. Congratulations Ramona on the release of the new book-oh what a feeling!
    Please post the details of your event in Eltham on your are the details:
    ELTHAMbookshop, ELTHAM College and Text Publishing
    invite you
    to an event to celebrate Bloodhound:searching for My Father by Ramona Koval.

    Join us to hear writer, broadcaster and journalist Ramona Koval in conversation with Arnold Zable, Cafe Scherazade, Fig Tree.

    Bloodhound is an intriguing investigation of family history. Ramona’s parents were Holocaust survivors who fled their homeland and settle in Melbourne. A quest for identity recounted with Koval’s customary humour, Bloodhound takes hold of the reader andnever lets go. It is a moving story of the terrible cost of war and of family secrets.This evening will be of huge interest to students, families, biographers and book club members

    Ramona Koval is a Melbourne writer, journalist, broadcaster and editor. From 2006 to 2011 she presented Radio National’s Book Show, and she has written for Age and the Australian. She is the author of By the Book: A Reader’s Guide to Life.

    Arnold Zable is a writer, novelist and human rights advocate, and one of Australia’s most-loved storytellers.His award-winning books include Jewels and Ashes, The Fig Tree, and three novels, Café Scheherazade, Scraps of Heaven, and Sea of Many Returns. His most recent book is Violin Lessons. He is the author of numerous columns, stories and essays, and co-author of the play Kan Yama Kan in which asylum seekers tell their stories.Zable has lectured and run workshops on creative writing and human rights issues throughout Australia. He is president of the Melbourne Centre of International PEN and has a doctorate from the School of Creative Arts, Melbourne University where he was recently appointed a Vice Chancellor’s Fellow.

    Date: Monday, 18th May 2015

    Time: 6.30pm for 7.00pm until 8.30pm

    Venue: Clarke Auditorium,ELTHAM College, 1660 Main Road, Reasearch

    Ticket: $45.00 includes a copy of the book or a $30.00 gift voucher and refreshments
    ELTHAM College parents and students Family Ticket(one adult and one secondary school student) : $40.00 includes a copy of the book or a $30.00 gift voucher and refreshments
    Prepaid early bookings are essential:94398700

  15. craig and alena forster · · Reply

    Dear Ramona,
    I met my partner on the 18th of may 1973 at 10.38. am We saw each other across the Staff Room at Oakleigh HS and I ask a colleague what was her name and was told Alena. So I introduced myself and ask her to have dinner with me that friday evening at 7.30pm at Sukasa Ibukis japanese resturant at 367 Chapel st Parahan. During the next few days she could and she couldnt and on the Friday she didnt turn up until 9.30 We havent been apart since and now have two daughters and 4 grandchildren.
    She introduced me to her parents and wanted to meet mine. My family settled in Melbourne in 1852 and is now large so when we meet each 10 years we meet at the Zoo I took Alena there and walked through the crowd of relatives to where my parents were and Alena, not knowing everyone in the Zoo apart from the animals and staff were relatives of mine, got impatient to meet my parents. To console her for the moment I introduced her to Auntie Maud and Uncle Jack standing nearby and explained that everyone she could see may well become relatives of hers.
    She fell to the ground shuddering
    Lifting her limply and seeing her grey face and shallow eyes, I asked anxiously what happened. She replied, trying to focus her gaze on my face, that when she looked around she saw only the ghosts of her old, large Czech family who, apart from her parents, had all been murdered in concentration camps during the war.
    I was gutted. I knew nothing of this, being a country boy from Colac, and had never having, even knowingly, met a Jewish person before.I only knew them from paintings in my Presbrytarian robes, turbuns with camels in deserts
    I hadn’t thought that these biblical people could still exist
    Her mother, Eva, then told me an English Captain of a Tank Corp had found her dying in the mud of Aushwich and carefully brought her to life again. They exchanged letters after the war and she gave me a card with a photo of him and his name on it. It took me 15 years to find him and his family in Wales.
    We asked them to come to Melbourne at our expense. Unfortunately both he and Eva died before that could be arranged.
    Thank you for your book “Bloodhound” I feel I have had the same experience as you- looking, looking, dreaming, dreaming,-and I can well appreciate and am amazed at what strength of resolution you needed to write that book
    Yours Craig Forster

    1. Dear Craig,
      What a wonderful story you tell. Thanks for sharing it. You’re a Bloodhound like I am. And thanks for your kind words,

  16. Have just read Bloodhound and it moved me deeply. 18 months ago, while doing family history research about my mother’s life, I was presented with a similar scenario, that my father might not be my father. Like you I know who my possible father might be but he too is dead. I have managed to find my possible half sister but have yet to take the DNA path as you did, partly because I adored the man who brought me up as my father. You have given me a lot to think about. Thank your for your honesty and exposing your deep emotions.

    1. Hi Keira,
      I’m very touched by your response to my book and I wish you all the best for your own search, whatever you decide to do.

  17. Dear Ramona,
    At the present time I’m reading your book “Bloodhound” which our Book Club will be discussing at the end of this month.
    Your travels in Poland searching for remnants of the time your father lived there reminded me of our search for Oskar Schindler during our stay in the Czech Republic last year. Should you be interested you can read the details from my travelblog – – While this search was in no way as emotional or personal for me as yours was for you, it was a great thrill to discover what we did.
    I’m really looking forward to our discussion about “Bloodhound” when the time comes.
    Thanks for your book.
    Peace & love,

    1. Hi Michelle,
      Thanks for your comment and I look forward to reading your thoughts on your Travel blog. And of course I’m delighted that your book group is discussing my Bloodhound!
      Best wishes,

  18. Hi Ramona,
    Yesterday I had to wait whilst my car got new tyres and I went to the library with the intention to “just browse”. Came across “By the book” on the second shelf I perused and got no further. I just finished it. Loved the story and the “too impatient to be an academic”. I also have put Serajevo on my “plan to visit next year” list. It’s 50 years since I was in then Yugoslavia. So many memories. Great read. Thanks again.

  19. Bram van Oosterhoue · · Reply

    Hi Ramona,
    yesterday I had to wait for my car to get new tyres and went to the library “just to browse” Found “By the book” on the second shelf I perused and got no further. Finished the book today. Loved the “too impatient to be an academic” and have put Serajevo on my “must visit next year” plans. It’s 50 years since I was in the then Yugoslavia. Thanks for a great read.

    1. Hello Bram,
      I’m absolutely delighted to read of your library discovery. Thanks so much for letting me know.
      Best wishes,

  20. Deb Burnett · · Reply

    Hello Ramona,
    I listened to your “conversation” session yesterday after being directed there by a friend. It was a very comforting listen …. I found out in December that my beloved Dad was not my biological father. I was the result of an affair. Unfortunately both my parents had passed, as has my biological father. I have extended my family holdings by 3 more half siblings but as you mentioned I wonder if I really want to be part of that family (as nice as they are). My dad was my dad and I feel slightly disloyal to him by pursuing contact with that branch of the tree. I wish he and Mum were here to talk about this – I want to know why he loved me so dearly even though I wasn’t his. (He was aware – as were my 4 older siblings). I would also ask mum why she never revealed the truth. Anyhow – thankyou again for sharing your story ….

    regards Deb

    1. Hi Deb,
      Thanks for getting in touch. All of those questions you raised I also had when I started my research for the book. I hope you find some ways to approach them in my book and that they might lead to your own discoveries.
      Best wishes,

  21. Hi Deb … read your message. A few years ago I found out there was a chance that my father was not my biological father. Found out who he might have been and for years have thought I should have a DNA test because it could be proven. But, like you my Dad WAS my Dad and I can’t bring myself to have the test with my possible half sister, even though she would love to find out. My parents are both dead and so is the other man. Sometimes the parent who brings you up is the one who is more important. Good luck.

  22. Thanks keira ….. i always knew my dad was a wonder …. i guess his tolerance and acceptance just made him even better. I was blessed to have him and that is my focus ….

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