Books That Make Us

Exploring Author-Reader Relationships in Turn Left at Venus


  • Harper Boon Independent Scholar
  • Leigh Dale Independent Scholar


The work of Australian writer Inez Baranay is read in the light of Stephen Orgel’s assertion that ‘If readers construct books, books also construct readers,’ and a parallel remark by Elizabeth Webby, that the ‘life/fiction opposition is too simple: the values people act upon in life may, in fact, be derived from novels they have read.’ While making some reference to Baranay’s career as a whole, our focus is the 2019 novel Turn Left at Venus (2019), a structurally complex book about a (fictional) writer of science fiction whose most renowned work is titled Turn Left At Venus. The essay argues that, in reflecting on the making of literary values among those in the book industry, in scholarly environs, and general readers (particularly fans), reading Turn Left at Venus prompts questions about the role of gender, sexuality, cultural and linguistic difference, travel, and genre, as they shape the valuing of books and writers in Australia.

Author Biographies

Harper Boon, Independent Scholar

Harper Boon After graduating from the University of Wollongong with English Honours and a Masters of Teaching, Harper Boon now teaches secondary English. She is interested in the intersection between secondary and tertiary literature education, queer pedagogies, and Australian literatures.

Leigh Dale, Independent Scholar

Leigh Dale is the author of The Enchantment of English: Professing English Literature in Australian Universities and Responses to Self Harm, as well as essays on Australian and other literatures, the politics of higher education, and colonial history.