Shortlist year: 2008

Shortlist category: Fiction

Published by: Giramondo Publishing

In her late twenties, Martine Hartmann moves from Sydney to New York to pursue her career as a photographer, leaving behind her mother Lotte, a holocaust survivor.

Nine years later, Martine's daughter Ruby goes missing in Central Park. Ruby's disappearance throws Martine into an emotional struggle which threatens to overwhelm her, but which also, in time, brings her to understand Lotte's anxieties and inhibitions, and to discover the act of abandonment at their heart.

Burning In is a closely observed psychological novel with an extraordinary eye for detail, and an unerring instinct for the suppressed rhythms of thought and feeling. Structured around two mysteries and three generations of Jewish women, it is an extended meditation on loss and guilt, exploring the long shadows cast by the past on the present, and the relationship between parental love and the imperatives of survival.

About the author

Mireille Juchau

Mireille Juchau’s first novel Machines for Feeling was shortlisted for the 1999 Vogel/Australian Literary Award.

In 2002 her play, White Gifts, won the Perishable Theatre International Women’s Playwriting Competition and was performed and published in the US.

Known also for her arts essays and reviews, Juchau has received grants from the Ian Potter Foundation, Arts NSW and the Australia Council, and is a recipient of a Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship.

Judges’ comments

Another lost child is at the heart of Mireille Juchau's Burning In (Giramondo Publishing). Martine, a Sydney photographer now based in New York, has to surmount personal grief to effect a reconstitution of her own life, but also of the lives of her family, shadowed as they are by the legacy of the Holocaust.

The novel ranges fluently across continents and generations. Its title metaphor - of photographic prints given extra exposure to darken some areas - indicates the sombre tone of an accomplished novel, yet one that reaches for the recovery of joy.