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The Life to Come  : Winner of the 2018 Miles Franklin Literary Award - Michelle de Kretser

The Life to Come

Winner of the 2018 Miles Franklin Literary Award

Paperback Published: 1st October 2017
ISBN: 9781760296568
Number Of Pages: 384

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Winner of the 2018 Miles Franklin Literary Award
Shortlisted for the 2018 Stella Prize

'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

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

'...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

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.

Read this book


A deserved prize winner





Characters are well described



disappointing after all the hype


i couldn't connect to any of these characters , especially Pippa whom I found to be egotistical, selfish, narcissistic, self absorbed and a thoroughly dislikable character. it was disconnective and boring. I couldn't find anything good to say about it. was a real struggle to finish it, but I shouldn't have bothered. it felt like a few good hours I will never get back. I had to give it one star but there should be allowance for no stars.



A gem!


A surprising gem of a journey.Woven in the depths of a rich and rewarding, gifted storyteller yet easy to read. Hard to put down. This gem shines and will leave a lasting impression on every reader. A must read.



a compelling read


The Life To Come is the fifth full-length novel by award-winning Sri Lankan-born Australian author, Michelle de Kretser. This novel in five parts details events in the lives of several Australians: sometimes their lives intersect, sometimes they appear in the background of each other's stories, sometimes they are sometimes loosely connected. A common character in all parts is Pippa Reynolds, an aspiring author whose journey is followed from student to writer to wife and mother. George Meshaw is an author who has a minor influence on Pippa's writing. Sri Lankan-born Ashoka Fernando appears in the wings of Pippa's story via his girlfriend Cassie, who appears to have a fascination with a certain Tamil shopkeeper. Celeste Harrison is a translator whose life intersects with Pippa's while Pippa is in Paris working on a novel. Pippa's own story details her marriage to violinist, Matt Elkinson and certain insecurities which spur her into action. Sri Lankan expatriates, Christabel and Bunty's lives also intersect with Pippa's while they are next-door neighbours and become unwitting characters in her most successful novel. While some scenes in each of the parts appear to echo despite the distinct perspective of the narrators, if the reader is looking for a book where all the stories are completed and issues resolved, where everything tied with a neat bow, then this is not that book. We get glimpses into people's lives, but not always fully realised ones. Perhaps that is de Kretser's intention. As for her characters, the reader can be forgiven for wondering if de Kretser actually likes any of them very much: many are not characters that come across as engaging, not characters the reader will fall in love with, care about, hope for, to any great extent. They are flawed, but not always charmingly so: some are pretentious, quite unlikeable, some are unendearingly quirky, and hard to connect with. But perhaps this is also intentional. De Kretser explores several topical issues:



The Life to Come

3.6 5


ISBN: 9781760296568
ISBN-10: 1760296562
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 384
Published: 1st October 2017
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3

Michelle de Kretser

About the Author

Michelle de Kretser was born in Sri Lanka and emigrated to Australia when she was 14. Educated in Melbourne and Paris, Michelle has worked as a university tutor, an editor and a book reviewer. She is the author of The Rose Grower, The Hamilton Case, which won the Commonwealth Prize (SE Asia and Pacific region) and the UK Encore Prize, and The Lost Dog, which was widely praised by writers such as AS Byatt, Hilary Mantel and William Boyd and won a swag of awards, including: the 2008 NSW Premier's Book of the Year Award and the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, and the 2008 ALS Gold Medal. The Lost Dog was also shortlisted for the Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction, the Western Australian Premier's Australia-Asia Literary Award, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Asia-Pacific Region) and Orange Prize's Shadow Youth Panel. It was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize for Fiction.

Visit Michelle de Kretser's Booktopia Author Page