Swimming Home by Judy Cotton | Black Inc.

Swimming Home: A Memoir

Book club notes

Awards for Swimming Home

  • Longlisted, 2023 Margaret and Colin Roderick Award

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About the author

Judy Cotton

Judy Cotton is an internationally recognised visual artist based in Connecticut, USA. Her work is held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, the National Gallery of Australia and numerous private collections. From 1974 to 1993, …

More about Judy Cotton

Praise for Swimming Home

‘Easily the most vivid memoir I have ever read ... Cotton is brilliant on the dynamics of sibling and mother-daughter relations, and she gives the subjects of loss and longing an orchestral subtlety and richness.' —Sebastian Smee

Swimming Home sees acclaimed painter Judy Cotton in full flight as a writer. The images of country Australia, South Korea and Japan – the landscapes, the flora and fauna, the light, the smells and sounds – all so different from each other, jump off the page as vividly as if she’d painted them. Reading this wholly original memoir about home and family, about not belonging and rebellion, is indeed like viewing a great exhibition. You move from one remarkable image to the next, back and forth through time, from one room to another, inhaling at the beauty before you, exhaling at the shock of some of it, always moving forward to a sense of peace, grace and understanding.’ —Caro Llewellyn

Swimming Home is not only a powerful personal chronicle, but for those of us outside of Australia it provides a vivid sense of the heartbreak and triumph that has shaped that country.’ —Lowery Stokes Sims

'Cotton paints like she writes and writes like she paints: fiercely, vividly and unpredictably . . . Judy is a puckish combination of indomitable heart, incisive brain, evil humour and eyes that see at 1/1000th of a second. And she renders that seeing into images with deceptive ease.’ —Diana Simmonds

'Shows evidence of an artist’s eye in its stunning visual imagery and observations of landscapes and people. A vivid memoir and a complex history of politics, settlement and displacement, Swimming Home will appeal to readers interested in history, art, politics and compelling life stories.' —Books+Publishing

‘A bloom of love on the page’ — Brenda Walker, author of Reading By Moonlight: How Books Saved a Life and The Wing of Night

‘Swimming Home is a portrait of loss and longing, freedom, and connection, and Cotton’s artist’s perspective of the Australian landscape is reflected in the detailed eye she casts on her family.’ —Chris Gordon, Readings

‘A short, impressionistic book, the impact of which is both pungent and poignant’ —Guardian Australia

‘Brim-full of sensuous, arresting detail, Swimming Home elevates memoir into an art form.’ —Fiona Capp, The Sydney Morning Herald, Non-fiction Pick of the Week

‘...a powerful meditation on longing and love, freedom and belonging, and one of the best memoirs you’ll read this year.’ —Cheryl Akle, The Weekend Australian, Notable books

‘...as if you were reading a whole book of poetry in one sitting.’ —Resident Judge