'Set in Sydney, Paris and Sri Lanka, The Life to Come is a mesmerising novel about the stories we tell and don't tell ourselves as individuals, as societies and as nations. It feels at once firmly classic and exhilaratingly contemporary.
'Pippa is a writer who longs for success. Celeste tries to convince herself that her feelings for her married lover are reciprocated. Ash makes strategic use of his childhood in Sri Lanka but blots out the memory of a tragedy from that time. Driven by riveting stories and unforgettable characters, here is a dazzling meditation on intimacy, loneliness and our flawed perception of other people.
'Profoundly moving as well as bitingly funny, The Life to Come reveals how the shadows cast by both the past and the future can transform, distort and undo the present.' (Synopsis)
and in memory of faithful Oliver
'Michelle de Kretser’s novels include The Rose Grower, The Lost Dog, and Questions of Travel. She was born in Sri Lanka and moved to Australia before working as an editor with Lonely Planet. Her awards include the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Prime Minister’s Literary Award, a short-listing for the Dublin IMPAC Literary Award, and a long-listing for the Man Booker Prize. De Kretser often explores the themes of history, identity, location, relationships and belonging. We caught up to talk about her new novel, The Life to Come, which is on the shortlist of the Stella Prize, and is released in the US today.'
Source: Magazine blurb.
'Australia's most prestigious literary prize, worth $60,000, has been awarded this year to Michelle de Kretser for her novel The Life to Come.'
'Michelle de Kretser’s The Life To Come, which has won the 2018 Miles Franklin Award, begins with an epigraph from Samuel Beckett’s Endgame:
CLOV: Do you believe in the life to come?
HAMM: Mine was always that.' (Introduction)
'Humans are narrative creatures. We tell stories to make sense of ourselves, but our stories – be they historical, political, fictional, or personal – shape us as much as we shape them. In the service of narrative expediency, we often sacrifice nuance. We turn chance to prophecy, and accidents into choices. We justify and excuse ourselves. We anoint heroes and villains. As novelist Michelle de Kretser warns, it is ‘frighteningly easy’ to turn the people around us into characters and to forget that: ‘The only life in which you play a leading role is your own.’ De Kretser’s new novel, The Life to Come, cleverly exposes the perils of narrative egocentrism by refusing to create a centre. Rather, she splits the book into five distinct sections that overlay rather than interconnect, and in which human complexity is privileged over narrative simplicity.' (Introduction)
'Near the end of Michelle de Kretser’s The Life to Come, an elderly woman named Christabel throws two novels she has been reading into the bin. One of them is by a writer named George Meshaw, whose work ‘concerned itself with the brutal and inadequate mechanism of the world. As if that were any kind of news!’ The other is by Pippa Reynolds, a contemporary version of the ‘silly lady novelist’ who once attracted the withering disapproval of George Eliot.' (Introduction)
'Pippa used to be Narelle when she lived up north with her mum. She changed her name the day she turned 18 because she was convinced that no one named Narelle could ever win the Booker. And Pippa desperately wanted to win the Booker. She still does. For as long as she can remember she has wanted to be a writer – a successful writer.' (Introduction)
'Among the subversive pleasures of Paul Theroux’s travel writing are his intermittent encounters with Australians. To use the local vernacular, he hates our guts.Over the decades, Theroux has happened across us everywhere — mountain highways, city parks, remote deserts, tropical islands — and invariably he finds us tanned, crude and vapid. Our presence affronts his efforts to venture forth in the bazaar of the global exotic, unmolested by the ordinary.“The Australian Book of Etiquette is a very slim volume,’’ he writes at one point. After one night on a train, closely confined with a batch of Aussie backpackers, he calls their company ‘‘a reminder that I’d touched bottom’’.Theroux doesn’t get Australians. We pop up in the most outlandish places, like some noxious weed. We move bravely through the world, but always in a bubble of unthinking privilege. We are inveterate wanderers, though in Theroux’s cantankerous view also rubes who don’t understand or appreciate the places we go. Why, he seems to be asking, do we bother?' (Introduction)
'Children of Australia’s long boom – who travel the world only to complain about lack of good coffee, who signal virtue by retweeting an asylum seeker story, who couldn’t imagine living in a house with only one bathroom, who are “really into food” – may find Michelle de Kretser’s new book an uncomfortable read.'(Introduction)
'Michelle de Kretser is shortlisted for the 2018 Stella Prize. In this special Stella interview, Michelle shares her favourite Australian women writers from the recent past and what inspired The Life to Come.' (Introduction)
'Six years ago, The Stella Prize burst onto the Australian literary scene with an air of urgency. The A$50,000 award was the progeny of the Stella Count – a campaign highlighting the under-representation of women authors in book reviews and awards lists. In the years since, the prize has challenged the gendered ways in which we think about “significance” and “seriousness” in literature.' (Introduction)