Michelle de Kretser: “Writing is a matter of holding your nerve.”

by |October 12, 2017

“…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

We were so excited to welcome Michelle de Kretser here at Booktopia. Ben and John, fellow Booktopians, insisted on coming down to spend time with the incredible lady. Michelle was here promoting her latest book The Life To Come, a profoundly moving and bitingly funny story that reveals how the shadows cast by both the past and the future can transform, distort and undo the present.

“I have been incredibly fortunate in my career… I have had incredible luck in Australia.” – Michelle

Back in 2013, Michelle won the Miles Franklin Literary Award for her novel Questions of Travel. Despite some pretty big expectations to meet, The Life To Come was everything we hoped it to be and more.

Riveting stories and unforgettable characters drive the plot of The Life To Come, presenting readers with a dazzling meditation on intimacy, loneliness and our flawed perception of other people.

“Pippa represents all that I fear what might come true of me and I want to keep that at a distance.” – Michelle

Ben and John had a great chat with Michelle, have a listen below!


Review by Ben Hunter

We book fanatics talk excessively about the power of fiction to open our eyes to the world we live in – to inspire that change in our lives that self-help gurus keep telling us about. Read, we say. Read and become a better human. This is an aphorism I’ve willingly accepted, but it’s been months, perhaps even years, since I’ve felt the transformation happen in such an immediate and indisputable way.

Since reading The Life to Come I’ve started to see Sydney in a whole new light. The city is no longer just a destination for me, it’s also a waypoint. The poky and quirky suburbs I inhabit are not just made up of homes, roads and railway stations, but can now be seen as a kind of strange dream, something less tangible than I once thought. As a writer, de Kretser absorbs the space around her and makes clear to the reader just how much of it gets taken for granted.

Moving through Sydney, Paris and Sri Lanka, the novel spans years without dipping on exacting detail. A writer waits for “success” to come, a lover waits to feel loved and a survivor of conflict waits to feel alive again. While they wait, we reflect on the flaws of perception, on just how hard it is for us to see ourselves and our world as it presently is.

With supreme elegance, The Life to Come creeps up on the reader. Drunk on de Kretser’s wordplay and humour, I’d crash headfirst into deeply moving moments. Arriving at the end of the book, I only really wanted to read the thing again.

This is a real accomplishment in writing, and I’m thrilled to see it going out into the world. I encourage everyone to read it – read it more than once.

The Life To Comeby Michelle de Kretser

The Life To Come

by Michelle de Kretser

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.

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. This extraordinary novel by Miles Franklin-winning author Michelle de Kretser will strike to your soul.

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About the Contributor

Bronwyn Eley is new to the book industry, having previously served in the Royal Australian Air Force & even spent some time as a barista until entering the exciting world of Booktopia. Books are her true passion. Bronwyn writes in her spare time, often has her face buried in a book and enjoys keeping fit (which she undoes by eating loads of chocolate) with Martial Arts and personal training. She can't answer what her favourite book is but she has a soft spot for The Host (Stephanie Meyer), Peter Pan (J.M Barrie) & Outlander (Diana Gabaldon). Fantasy, sci-fi and YA make up the majority of her bookshelves.


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