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Michelle de Kretser was born in Sri Lanka and emigrated to Australia when she was 14. She was educated in Melbourne and Paris. She is the author of three other novels: The Rose Grower, The Hamilton Case (which won the Commonwealth Prize, SE Asia and Pacific region and the Encore Prize), and The Lost Dog, which was longlisted for both the Man Booker and the Orange Prize and received Australia's 'Book of the Year' Award, the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, and the Gold Medal from the Australian Literary Society. She lives in Sydney.
Set across Sydney, Paris and Colombo, this masterful novel explores self-deception and the construction of public personas with scathing brilliance. While the incisively and honestly drawn characters are largely unlikable, their stories are compelling. Their flaws are artfully portrayed, and hold a mirror to many middle class conceits with razor sharp cunning. This is no conventional contemporary novel in which characters journey down an obvious narrative path, battling obvious obstacles along the way. Rather, it takes in the inner and outer lives of three protagonists, each of whom, in differing ways, are beset by self-delusions. They are connected via Pippa, a writer desperate for success and adulation. She tweets lies about damning reviews from her readers, spinning unfettered criticism into pseudo-self-effacing gold. There are many astute, amusing observations on personal motivation, and the façades we wear to manipulate how we’re perceived by friends, lovers, the world at large. As one character remarks, people have always “presented selective aspects of themselves”, and this novel demonstrates just that with incredible flair. There’s much self-conscious posturing, but little self-awareness, and the portrayal of middle class desperation to appear effortlessly liberal is excruciatingly spot-on. Deeply nuanced, and highly readable, this is an exhilarating breath of fresh air. ~ Joanne Owen
An enthralling exploration of travel and our sense of place in the modern world. It is the story of two people, Laura, an Australian artist turned travel writer, and Ravi, a Sri Lankan IT man whose life is torn apart by political violence. This is as much a meditation on the modern globalised world and the way it works as it is the story of two people. The whole thing is carried along with wonderful skill as the author pulls us into the lives of the main characters and the people they meet with an accretion of lovingly detailed writing taking us through a tale that lasts for decades. It is brilliant, gripping to read while making you think. A 'Piece of Passion' about Questions of Travel from the publisher... 'Almost eighteen months since it first knocked me off my feet in manuscript form, I’m thrilled that Michelle de Kretser’s new novel, Questions of Travel, will finally be released in the UK in March. Michelle’s exquisite prose has won her praise from the likes of Hilary Mantel, A.S. Byatt and William Boyd and longlistings for the Orange and Man Booker prizes. To my mind, Questions of Travel is the most provocative and satisfying work she’s written yet: in tracing the lives of two very disparate characters, Laura (who travels by choice) and Ravi (who travels from necessity), Michelle has produced a book which not only interrogates the very concept of travel but also the way our modern lives connect. Literary trainspotters will swoon over the gorgeous threads and echoes of writers like Patrick White, Christina Stead and Shirley Hazzard interwoven throughout Questions of Travel, and sentences like ‘She came to savour the brief minutes at the end of every journey when travel was over but arrival remained prospective.’ remind me of the best of E.M. Forster. With a quietly powerful ending that will, quite simply, floor you, this is a book to savour.'Clare Drysdale, UK Director of Allen & Unwin
March 2013 Book of the Month and eBook of the Month. From the Booker and Orange longlisted author of The Lost Dog comes the captivating, vivid journey of two very different people over three decades and dozens of countries. Through rich, luxuriant, intense prose she explores what it is to be human. Michelle de Kretser illuminates travel, work and modern dreams in this brilliant evocation of the way we live now. Questions of Travel is infused with wit, imagination, uncanny common sense and a deep understanding of what makes us tick and it will stay with you many days after you finish it. A 'Piece of Passion' about Questions of Travel from the publisher... 'Almost eighteen months since it first knocked me off my feet in manuscript form, I’m thrilled that Michelle de Kretser’s new novel, Questions of Travel, will finally be released in the UK in March. Michelle’s exquisite prose has won her praise from the likes of Hilary Mantel, A.S. Byatt and William Boyd and longlistings for the Orange and Man Booker prizes. To my mind, Questions of Travel is the most provocative and satisfying work she’s written yet: in tracing the lives of two very disparate characters, Laura (who travels by choice) and Ravi (who travels from necessity), Michelle has produced a book which not only interrogates the very concept of travel but also the way our modern lives connect. Literary trainspotters will swoon over the gorgeous threads and echoes of writers like Patrick White, Christina Stead and Shirley Hazzard interwoven throughout Questions of Travel, and sentences like ‘She came to savour the brief minutes at the end of every journey when travel was over but arrival remained prospective.’ remind me of the best of E.M. Forster. With a quietly powerful ending that will, quite simply, floor you, this is a book to savour.'Clare Drysdale, UK Director of Allen & Unwin
Winner of the Miles Franklin Award, 2018 Longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award, 2018 New Statesman's best books of the year, 2018 Michelle de Kretser's fifth novel is both a delicious satire on the way we live now and a deeply moving examination of the true nature of friendship. 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. Travelling from Sydney to Paris and Sri Lanka, this mesmerising novel feels at once firmly classic and exhilaratingly contemporary.
Picking up her pace, Frances saw a woman in the leaf-hung depths of the garden. She wore a long pink dress and a wide hat, and her skin was a creamy white. There came upon Frances a sensation that sometimes overtook her when she was looking at a painting: space was foreshortened, time stood still. When Frances met Charlie at a party in Melbourne he was married with a young son. Now she and Charlie live in Sydney with her rescue dog Rod and an unshakeable sense that they have tipped the world on its axis. They are still getting their bearings - of each other and of their adopted city. Everything is alien, unfamiliar, exotic: haunting, even. Worlds of meaning spin out of perfectly chosen words in this rare, beguiling and brilliant ghost story by Miles Franklin Literary Award-winning writer Michelle de Kretser.
"e;It is not really possible to describe, in a short space, the originality and depth of this long and beautifully crafted book."e;--A.S. Byatt, Guardian Laura Fraser grows up in Sydney, motherless, with a cold, professional father and an artistic bent. Ravi Mendis lives on the other side of the globe--exploring the seductive new world of the Internet, his father dead, his mother struggling to get by. Their stories alternate throughout Michelle de Kretser's ravishing novel, culminating in unlikely fates for them both, destinies influenced by travel--voluntary in her case, enforced in his.With money from an inheritance, Laura sets off to see the world, eventually returning to Sydney to work for a publisher of travel guides. There she meets Ravi, now a Sri Lankan political exile who wants only to see a bit of Australia and make a living. Where do these two disparate characters, and an enthralling array of others, truly belong? With her trademark subtlety, wit, and dazzling prose, Michelle de Kretser shows us that, in the 21st century, they belong wherever they want to and can be--home or away.
A haunting and acclaimed novel of thwarted ambition, corruption, murder and family secrets by the author of the acclaimed bestseller The Rose Grower.Murder, moonlight, the jungle crowding close...The place is Ceylon, the time the 1930s. Set amid tea plantations, decay and corruption, this sinuous, subtle, surprising novel is a masterly evocation of time and place, of colonialism and the backwash of empire. It is the story of an embittered Ceylonese lawyer, Sam Obeysekere himself a product of empire - 'obey' by name and by nature - and of a family that once had wealth and influence but starts to crack open when Sam's charismatic father dies leaving gambling debts, an ex-beauty of a wife, an unstable daughter and an inadequate son. But the writing has been on the wall for a generation, ever since another sibling died in his cot. And at the heart of the novel is the Hamilton Case, a 'White Mischief' murder scandal that shakes the upper echelons of the island's society. Sam's involvement in it makes his name but paradoxically ensures that he will never achieve his ambition. A miracle of delicacy and restraint, full of volte faces, and narrated with perfect pitch in a voice that catches both the tragedy and comedy of their situation, this is a gripping, nuanced tale of the end of an era, suffused with 'the unbearable thought that everything might have turned out differently'.
On a cloudless summer afternoon in 1789, labourers working in the fields around Montsignac, a village in Gascony, saw a man fall out of the sky. The balloon had drifted over a wooded ridge and into their valley. The farmworkers, straightening up one by one, shaded their eyes against the dazzle of the sun on crimson and blue silk. The thing hung in the sky - sumptuous, menacing - like a sign from God or the devil. Then there was thunder and fire, and a man plummeting earthwards. It was the 14th of July. The world was about to change. The timeless story of Sophie nursing the ambition to create a repeat-flowering crimson rose, the like of which has never been seen in Europe. Then Stephen, the American balloonist falling out of the sky and into Sophie's life - a love story that unfolds against the sensuous green landscape of Gascony. It is the 14th of July, the year is 1789 and revolution hangs in the air closing in on the private world of the Saint-Pierre family and threatening to change their world forever. Michelle de Krester's gripping tale of love, roses and the French revolution is seductive, moving and beautifully written. The popularity of this book has made it a bestseller in Australia and the UK and the US.
Tom Loxley is holed up in a cottage in the bush, trying to finish his book on Henry James, when his dog goes missing, trailing a length of orange twine. As Tom searches it becomes clear that he needs to unravel other puzzles in his life and the story shifts between past and present, taking in his parents' mixed-race marriage in India, their arrival in Australia in the 1970s, Tom's own failed marriage, and his current involvement with Nelly Zhang, an artist with her own secrets and mysteries. Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2008.
The place is Ceylon, the time the 1930s. Set amid tea plantations, corruption and the backwash of empire, this is a world teetering on the edge of chaos. Sam Obeysekere is a Ceylonese lawyer, a perfect product of empire. His family, which once had wealth and influence, starts to crack open as political change comes to the island, and Sam's glamorous father dies leaving gambling debts. At the heart of the novel is the Hamilton case, a murder scandal that shakes the upper echelons of island society; Sam's involvement in it makes his name but sets his life on course of disappointment.
In a corner of south-western France, a young rose grower nurtures a private passion to breed an exotic new flower. But the year is 1789, and the world is about to change... The Rose Grower throws a subtle, slanting light on the underside of history, as a young woman and her family are caught up in the bloodthirsty years of the French Revolution. Her private passion is to create a repeat-flowering crimson rose, the first of its kind in Europe. But, as public events in Paris are duplicated in Gascony, her world turns upside down. An American balloonist falls out of the sky and into her life; while Joseph, a young working-class doctor, is also drawn into her orbit, and finds himself fatally torn between reason and desire, revolutionary zeal and unrequited love.