In the Time of Foxes cover

Shortlist year: 2021

Shortlist category: Fiction

Published by: Scribner Australia an imprint of Simon & Schuster

'A fox could be a shape-shifter, a spirit being. It could appear in human form if this suited its purposes; it could come and go as it pleased, play tricks, lead men astray.'

A film director in Hackney with a fox problem in her garden; an escapee from a cult in Japan; a Sydney café-owner rekindling an old flame; an English tutor who gets too close to an oligarch; a journalist on Mars, face-to-face with his fate.

The world has taught these men and women to live off their wits. They know how to play smart, but what happens when they need to be wise?

'In the Time of Foxes' is both compellingly readable and deeply insightful about the times in which we live, each narrative a compressed novel. With an exhilarating span of people and places, woven together by the most mercurial of animals, it shows the short story collection at its most entertaining and rewarding, and introduces Jo Lennan as a captivating new storyteller.

About the author

 Jo Lennan

Jo Lennan

Born in Wollongong, Jo Lennan studied in Sydney and Oxford. Jo has worked as a lawyer and writer, contributing to The Economist, 1843, Time Magazine and The Monthly. Her work has featured in the Best Australian Stories and Best Australian Essays anthologies.

Judges’ comments

This classic collection of stories by Jo Lennan does not contain a false note. The author's manner is one of indirection—much of the significance and affective power of these stories lies in what is not said or not grasped by the characters—and it's in her eye for the hidden and unarticulated exchanges of feeling between people that Lennan proves herself an expert and subtle analyst of the human heart. These are stories that refrain from all sermonising and instead grow out of a surefooted instinct for reality. 'The Invitation', the distressing account of a young man's relationship with a wealthy Russian woman, is masterly as an examination of youthful male naivety and vulnerability; and 'The Understudy', about the tense relationship between two actresses, continually obliges us to revise our understanding of both women. 'The Best Left in Europe' is an unassuming tale about two young men on a surfing trip in Spain, and at the same time a wonderfully subtle account of the flows of power and affect between two friends. Lennan's stories do not have a palpable design upon their readers, but are instead distinguished by accurate, precise observation and psychological truthfulness. She shows us fiction can still do what it has always done: hold the mirror up to nature.