The Abyssinian Contortionist

Hope, friendship and other circus acts

By David Carlin

Sosina Wogayehu learned to do flips and splits at the age of six, sitting on the floor of her parents' living room in Addis Ababa, watching a German variety show on the only television channel in the land. She sold cigarettes on the Ethiopian streets at the age of eight, and she played table soccer with her friends who made money from washing cars, barefoot in the dust. And, she dreamed of being a circus performer. Twenty-five years later, Sosina has conjured herself a new life in a far-off country: Australia. Along the way, she helped rescue one brother, yet she lost another. Sosina has traveled the world as a professional contortionist, capable of bounce-juggling eight balls on a block of marble. She performed with Circus Oz (Australia's premier circus company) from 2002-2009, and she appeared in Peter Jackson's 2005 remake of King Kong. Sosina was also a 2007 nominee for the Australian of the Year Award. Additionally, Sosina has been able to juggle worlds and stories, and, by luck - which is something she is not short of - she is friends with author David Carlin. Following his acclaimed memoir Our Father Who Wasn't There, David Carlin brings us his 'not-me' book, traveling to Addis Ababa where he discovers ways of living so different from his own and where he confronts his Western fantasies and fears. Through Sosina's story, David shows us that, with risk and enough momentum, life's circumstances are never predictable: whom we befriend, where we end up, and how we come to see ourselves. *** "...Carlin is a master storyteller who is well-equipped for the challenge of capturing the life of a woman about whose culture, at the outset, he knows practically nothing. The subject of The Abyssinian Contortionist is clearly a remarkable person of unusual social mobility and ability, yet Carlin manages to navigate the high-wire act of astute observation without falling into hagiography....his writing is so crisp and vivid that, on reading its final pages, I felt a deep satisfaction and a longing for more. - Andrew McMillen, The Australian, May 2015~[Subject: Biography, African Studies, Australian Studies, Women's Studies, Refugee Studies, Diaspora Studies]


Publication Date: 3/2/2015
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781742586786