Biography

Denise Leith by Brigid ArnettDenise grew up in Sydney and over the course of her career has worked in a number of jobs including on a production line in a factory, as a waitress, a receptionist, a counsellor for child abuse prevention and in stockbroking - she was the first woman trained as an 'operator' on the Sydney Stock Exchange floor.

Denise has a Ph.D. in International Relations, which she teaches part time at Macquarie University in Sydney. Her special interests are the politics of war, human rights and humanitarian action, peace keeping and peace enforcing, Middle East Politics, the Rwandan genocide, the United Nations and US foreign policy.

She served on the management committee of International PEN, Sydney Centre for six years, and as a member of that committee in 2004 shared the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Community Award from HREOC for PEN's 'effective campaign of raising asylum seeker issues within the Australian conscience and...bring(ing) national and international pressure to bear in seeking the release of asylum seekers in (Australian) detention (centres)'. In 2009 she received the Sydney PEN Award.

Denise has two published non fiction books, The Politics of Power: Freeport in Suharto's Indonesia (University of Hawaii Press 2002) and Bearing Witness: The Lives of War Correspondents and Photojournalists (Random House 2004) and the novel What Remains (Allen & Unwin 2012). She is also a contributor to the anthology Fear Factor: Terror Incognito (Pan Macmillan and Picador 2010) and 'A Country Too Far (Penguin 2013).

A revised and updated edition of Bearing Witness, which is used extensively in media, journalism and ethics courses at university, will soon be available in paperback and as an e-book from Amazon. It will also be available in EPUB from this web site.

Denise writes articles (political, book reviews, travel) for newspapers, journals, serials and on line web sites. She has given conference papers around the world, chaired and been a participant on various panels, has facilitated writing workshops and is a guest speaker in her capacity as an author and academic. For a number of years she has worked through the Afghan Women Writing Project to mentor women writers in Afghanistan.

Her first novel, 'What Remains' was shortlisted for the Asher Award and the Fellowship of Australian Writers National Literary Awards - Christina Stead Award. In late 2015 she finished her second novel. Set in Afghanistan it asks whether we can ever be sure of what is right and what is wrong. What would you do if you were told that your lover was a killer? Titled, 'This Is It' this second novel should be available in 2016.

In late 2016 Denise began working on her third novel. Set in upstate New York and Colombia it looks at secrets and the disintegration of a family.

Awards/ Presentations

  • 2013 'What Remains' Shortlisted for the Asher Literary Award
  • 2012 'What Remains' - Shortlisted and Commended for the 2012 Fellowship of Australian Writers National Literary Awards - Christina Stead Award
  • 2011 Vermont Studio Centre, Johnson, Vermont, USA
  • 2010 Winner Berkelouw Books Short Story Competition
  • 2009 International PEN, Sydney Centre Human Rights Award
  • 2009 Hachette/Queensland Writers Centre Manuscript Development Program for Fiction Writers
  • 2007 Ledig House, Art Omi International Arts Centre, Columbia County, New York residency
  • 2007 Australia Council for the Arts, Literature Board Skills and Arts Development Grant
  • 2004 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Community Award (as committee member of International PEN, Sydney Centre for work with refugee writers held in Australian detention centres)
  • 1998 Macquarie University Postgraduate Research Fund Award
  • 1997 Australian Government Postgraduate Award Scholarship