The dazzling new novel from Michelle de Kretser, author of Questions of Travel, bestseller and winner of the Miles Franklin Award.
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 wickedly funny, The Life to Come reveals how the shadows cast by both the past and the future can transform, distort and undo the present. This extraordinary novel by Miles Franklin-winning author Michelle de Kretser will strike to your soul.Reviewed by Robert at Angus & Robertson:
There are so many reasons to love The Life To Come, the new novel from Michelle de Kretser. Provocative, tragicomic, and full of the most wonderfully descriptive writing you'll see, this book is a glorious piece of virtuosity that is unlike anything I have ever read. More invaluably though, this book may actually change you.
The Life to Come is a series of mini-narratives, mostly set in inner west Sydney, that entwine to produce a rich and colourful tapestry of a world filled with politically aware creatives who are forever bumping against each other. Each of her characters act as a kind of vignette, seeming to carry defined ideas of who they are and where they are going. Some have cast themselves as grand writers and charitable neighbours, others as great liberal supporters of refugees and the marginalised, but these ideals are soon revealed as the hypocritical constructs of lonely souls. de Kretser deftly pins each one to the board with glorious wit - her character observations are so acute that you are often left breathless - but always brings an inclusive sense of compassion. These characters are full of human frailty, just like us. They mirror us in many ways, and we cannot help but feel for them.
As in the 2012 Miles Franklin Award-winning novel Questions of Travel, there is no dominant narrative arc here - the glory lies in the slow savouring of the details. This novel delves into the stories we tell both others and ourselves. It explores how we make excuses for our bad behaviour and highlight our aspirations, always with our best times and deeds just before us, in the life to come. Ultimately, de Kretser highlights how we are the heroes of our own stories. We deceive ourselves and others to appear at our best. And this holds beyond the individual, as societies and nations also self-mythologise. You'll recognise modern Australia here.
Moving and evocative, intellectual and pointed, and all written in brilliant prose, this book is a rich delight that is so uniquely of its time. Take your time reading it, and watch how it colours even the smallest social interactions in your life. You'll ask yourself questions. You may even change how you act. Most of all, you will certainly want to re-read it.
'...one of those rare writers whose work balances substance with style. Her writing is very witty, but it also goes deep, informed at every point by a benign and far-reaching intelligence.' Kerryn Goldsworthy, Sydney Morning Herald
'...a dazzlingly accomplished author who commands all the strokes. Her repertoire stretches from a hallucinatory sense of place to a mastery of suspense, sophisticated verbal artistry and a formidable skill in navigating those twisty paths where history and psychology entwine.' Boyd Tonkin, Independent
'I so much admire Michelle de Kretser's formidable technique - her characters feel alive, and she can create a sweeping narrative which encompasses years, and yet still retain the sharp, almost hallucinatory detail.' Hilary Mantel
'Michelle de Kretser knows how to construct a gripping story. She writes quickly and lightly of wonderful and terrible things…A master storyteller.' A.S. Byatt