A Certain Light: A Memoir of Family, Loss and Hope

Event details


Date & time

Friday 22 June 2018


Seminar Room 1.04, Coombs Extension Building #8, ANU
ANU Canberra


Cynthia Banham


School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet)

Cynthia Banham will discuss her recent family memoir, A Certain Light, which she wrote after completing her PhD at RegNet. It tells the difficult stories of survival of three generations of her family: her grandfather’s experiences as an Italian Military Internee in Germany, her mother’s struggles as a young migrant in Australia, and her own, as a journalist injured in a plane crash ten years ago.

From the book’s blurb:

“Life is not defined by the bad things that happen to us. It certainly isn’t for me.”

Written for her young son so that he would know what had happened to his mother, Cynthia Banham’s inspiring family memoir uncovers a true picture of what survival means:

“This book tells a story that I tried to write many times before, but couldn’t. For a long time, it was too painful to tell. It is also one I hadn’t known how to tell. It had to be more than a story about surviving a plane crash, a random event without intrinsic meaning.”

Unable until now to write her own story, Cynthia found that the lives of her Italian grandfather, Alfredo, and his intriguing older sister, Amelia, resonated with her own. Discovering their sacrifice, joy, fear and love, from Trieste to Germany and America, and finally to Australia, their stories mirror and illuminate Cynthia’s own determination and courage in the face of overwhelming adversity.

From a remarkable writer, and told with unflinching honesty and compassion, A Certain Light speaks to the heart of what really matters in life.

About the speaker

Dr Cynthia Banham is a Sydney-based writer and a visitor at the ANU School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet). She is a lawyer, a former foreign affairs and defence correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and was, until recently, a Research Fellow at the University of Queensland in the School of Political Science and International Studies. Cynthia obtained her PhD from ANU in 2015. She has published two books: Liberal Democracies and the Torture of Their Citizens (Hart Publishing, 2017) and A Certain Light (Allen & Unwin, 2018).

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet