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Body Friend : SHORTLISTED FOR THE STELLA PRIZE - Katherine Brabon
Stella Prize Shortlist 2024

Body Friend

SHORTLISTED FOR THE STELLA PRIZE

By: Katherine Brabon

Paperback | 30 August 2023

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Late in the summer five years ago, when I was recovering from a surgical procedure, I met two women within a few weeks of each other and I saw both of them regularly, always separately, for some months afterwards. Summer did not give way easily that year, and even so we must force our bodies down to sleep in the heat, and even if experience does not give itself up easily to representation, I will lay it down anyway; frame the raw and exigent weeks, the untrustworthy months after the hospital, render it and them, Frida and Sylvia, as closely as possible to reality or whatever is the feelingof a life and mind lived inside a body.

A woman leaves the hospital after an operation and starts swimming in a pool in Melbourne’s inner suburbs. There she meets Frida, who is uncannily like her in her experience of illness. Soon after, she meets another woman in a local park, Sylvia, who sees her pain and encourages her to rest.

The two new friends seem to be polar opposites: Frida adores the pool and the natural world, Sylvia clings to the protection of interior worlds. What begins as two seemingly simple friendships is challenged by what each woman asks of her, of themselves, and their bodies.

From the acclaimed author of The Memory Artistand The Shut Ins comes a new novel about the relationship between body and self, and how we must dive beneath the surface to really know ourselves.
Industry Reviews
'Body Friend is a deeply intimate tribute to the fragile and porous self, written in prose of rare clarity and tenderness. I felt everything reading this book.' -- Claire Thomas, author of The Performance and Fugitive Blue
'Body Friend is a kind of ghost story by stealth, an account of devotion, obsession and chronic pain that reveals a netherworld inside this one. It is told with such delicacy, with such a tender and insistent voice, that it becomes-uncannily, thrillingly-luminous.' -- Miles Allinson, author of Fever of Animals and In Moonland
Brabon writes some of the most beautiful prose I've ever read, and this book is both muted and raw, like pain itself. A love letter to a body, to relationship and connection, and to water, Brabon explores what we need and how we need it with astonishing wisdom and candour. -- Laura McPhee-Browne, author of Cherry Beach and Little Plum
'Body Friend is a remarkable and unflinching work that highlights, quietly and profoundly, the tedium and horror of living with chronic pain, but that also shows the lengths we go to understand ourselves, and to survive. Brabon's writing is important, and brave.' -- Oliver Mol, author of Train Lord and Lion Attack!

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