Good Reading : October 2017
GENERAL FICTION he Life to Come Michelle de Kretser h Mi T th de ea an ch a n to Her cha AUSTRALIAN AUTHOR he Life to Come is a vast and impressive book. It’s structured in ve parts, each of which introduces the reader to a new character at a defining point in their lives. Each part eads like a short story, fully formed and engaging, but the overlapping characters give the book continuity as a novel. De Kretser uses this structure to explore ideas of identity in a Her characters hail from Sri Lanka, Algeria, Poland and Greece. Complex and flawed, they all have a rich history and are trying to find their place in the world. Pippa, a writer of paperback fiction, is present throughout. We come to know her through other people’s stories as a friend, daughter and neighbour. She likes to cook extravagant meals, tend to her elderly neighbour and follow social justice causes on social media. Our sympathies change with each new context we find her in, showing identity to be like the view in a kaleidoscope, shifting with each turn. De Kretser likes to make her readers work. Her language alternates between ornate and a blunt and brazen tone. She sometimes uses French without providing a translation. Most of the story is about university students, writers, academics and intellectuals. She often makes tongue-in-cheek reference to the Australian literary scene. This, combined with a highly literary style, made me wonder whether the book would alienate some readers. It would be a shame if it did, as one of the most touching and beautifully written stories comes right at the end. It’s worth sticking with. The Life to Come is the sixth novel by Michelle de Kretser, whose books The Lost Dog and Questions of Travel won a host of awards and caused a stir in the publishing world. I expect The Life to Come will be just as well received. ★★★★ Allen & Unwin $32.99 Reviewed by Alexandra Irving About Michelle de Kretser Michelle de Kretser moved from Sri Lanka to Australia when she was 14 years old. For many years she worked as an editor with travel publisher Lonely Planet. In 2013 she won the Miles Franklin Award for her novel Questions of Travel. Australian author Robert Dessaix has described her as our finest living writer. From the bestselling author of The Seamstress comes a sweeping historical epic that will transport you to another time and place. You think your family’s strange . . . you haven’t met this one.