Shortlist year: 2018

Shortlist category: Fiction

Published by: Allen & Unwin

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. 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.

About the author


Michelle de Kretser

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 book reviewer. She is the author of The Rose GrowerThe Hamilton Case, and The Lost Dog, which won a number of awards, including the 2008 ALS Gold Medal and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Her last novel, Questions of Travel, received 14 honours, including winning the 2013 Miles Franklin Literary Award and the Prime Minister's Literary Award for fiction.

Judges’ comments

The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser is a sophisticated and cosmopolitan novel about lives displaced by trauma and travel. Five sections set in Sydney, Paris and Sri Lanka follow an ensemble of characters loosely connected by the striving Australian writer, Pippa Reynolds. The intricate narrative observes contemporary urban life at both macro and micro levels, from the politics of colonialism and immigration to the faux pas of tourists and the smell of a doomed spice shop in Sydney's inner-west. De Kretser is a perfectionist in her crafting of precise sentences, exquisite imagery and subtly shifting perspectives. Her laser-beam satire sees through pretension and ignorance, while paying respect to the lost and lonely. The Life to Come portrays Australia's multi-faceted identity with tremendous wit and insight.