A contender for the 2018 Stella Prize, The Life to Come is de Kretser’s latest offering. The Life to Come is five interrelated stories about life in a modern world. Told from Sydney to Paris to Sri Lanka our stories are tied together by Pippa, a writer.
This is not your typical fictional narrative with a clear plot. Instead we have five tenuously related novellas set across three countries and several decades. De Kretser writes vivid and entrancing sevens of life. She has an incredible sense of place that makes the reader feel as though they are within the story. She uses cutting observations of culture and person and is ruthless in her depictions in her social commentary. There is a hilarity in her tone that I appreciated all the more after listening to her speak in person.
The tenuous link between the stories is Pippa. Pippa is vapid, vacuous and selfish and yet, still likeable and relatable. I wondered if what keeps her likeable is the fact that despite all her misgivings the reader will find a shred of themselves within her character. Her relatability is what keeps her human and the perfect mix of a love/hate relationship.
This won’t be a read for everyone but it is a beautiful piece of literary fiction. It tells of life as it is, blunt and true, with humor and wit. Michelle de Kretser has a wicked amount of wit and charm and it shines through in this beautiful read I know I will revisit in the future.