Lily Brett is an award-winning Australian novelist, essayist and poet who now lives in New York City. Much of her writing deals with her Jewish family semi-biographically and with her feelings about the Holocaust.


During World War II Brett's parents Max and Rose survived six years in the Łódź ghettos in Poland, before being taken to Auschwitz concentration camp where they were eventually separated. It took them six months to find each other again after the war ended in 1945. Brett was born in a displaced persons' camp in Germany in 1946. She was aged two (1948) before her parents were able to leave Germany and emigrate to Melbourne, Australia.

By the mid-1960s, Brett was a young journalist working with Molly Meldrum at Go-Set, Australia's most renowned music magazine of the time, and on Uptight one of the first weekly TV shows devoted to pop music. In the summer of 1967 she traveled to America to cover the Monterey International Pop Festival, then onto the U.K., before returning to Australia.

In 1989 Brett moved to New York City with her second husband, painter David Rankin, and her three children.

In 2006, Lily Brett appeared on ABC's Foreign Correspondent program.


Her first book, The Auschwitz Poems, won the Victorian Premier’s Award for poetry in 1987. She has gone on to win several major prizes for her fiction and poetry. Her previous novel, Too Many Men, was an international bestseller. Lily Brett is the author of four novels, three books of essays and six volumes of poetry.

Lily Brett has always been struck by the differences between men and women, and the effects of these differences are consistent themes in her books. In You Gotta Have Balls, Ruth Rothwax says, “Men are so smart. The average severely depressed, semi-witted, half-lobotomized man is so much smarter than most women.” Ruth doesn’t hold back on the subject. Men are clear-headed she says. Men know that’s it’s in their own interests to support each other even though they may hate the other man’s guts. Men don’t scratch and bitch and claw each other.

Ruth is dismayed about how aggressive and competitive women are with each other. Men have more straightforward relationships, she says. They don’t hang up phones in a huff with each other. They don’t feud and not speak for months over insignificant issues. Men don’t weep at something another man says. Or hate them for years because of it.

Lily Brett's Works:


Things Could Be Worse (1990)
What God Wants (1992)
Just Like That (1994) Macmillan Australia
Collected Stories (1999)
Too Many Men (1999) Macmillan Australia
You Gotta Have Balls (2005) Picador Australia


In Full View (1997) Macmillan Australia
New York (2001) Picador Australia
Between Mexico and Poland (2002) Picador Australia


The Auschwitz Poems (1986) Scribe
Poland and other Poems (1987)
After the War (1990)
Unintended Consequences (1992)
In Her Strapless Dresses(1994) Picador Australia
Mud in My Tears (1997) Picador Australia
Poems by Lily Brett (2001) Picador Australia
Blistered Days (2007) Picador Australia

Poems by Lily Brett

Poet of the day

George Canning PC, FRS was a British statesman and politician who served as Foreign Secretary and briefly Prime Minister.

Early life: 1770–1793

Canning was born into an Anglo-Irish family at his parents' home in Queen Anne Street, Marylebone, London. Canning described himself as "an Irishman born in London". His father,...

Poem of the day

Daß Dir zum Ernste des Lebens die Lust an den Spielen der Musen
Freundliche Götter gewährt, Schönes dem Guten gesellt:
Nicht die schlechteste Gabe der Himmlischen ist′s, und Du selber
Freue Dich deß, in der Brust blüht Dir ein ewiger Lenz!
Früchte des Herbstes gewinnt auch...