Cold Enough for Snow

Au, Jessica


1 in stock

1 in stock

The inaugural winner of The Novel Prize, an international biennial award established by Giramondo (Australia), Fitzcarraldo Editions (UK) and New Directions (USA). Cold Enough for Snow was unanimously chosen from over 1500 entries.

A novel about the relationship between life and art, and between language and the inner world – how difficult it is to speak truly, to know and be known by another, and how much power and friction lies in the unsaid, especially between a mother and daughter.

A young woman has arranged a holiday with her mother in Japan. They travel by train, visit galleries and churches chosen for their art and architecture, eat together in small cafes and restaurants and walk along the canals at night, on guard against the autumn rain and the prospect of snow. All the while, they talk, or seem to talk: about the weather, horoscopes, clothes and objects; about the mother’s family in Hong Kong, and the daughter’s own formative experiences. But uncertainties abound. How much is spoken between them, how much is thought but unspoken?

Cold Enough for Snow is a reckoning and an elegy: with extraordinary skill, Au creates an enveloping atmosphere that expresses both the tenderness between mother and daughter, and the distance between them.

‘So calm and clear and deep, I wished it would flow on forever.’ – Helen Garner

‘Rarely have I been so moved, reading a book: I love the quiet beauty of Cold Enough for Snow and how, within its calm simplicity, Jessica Au camouflages incredible power.’ – Edouard Louis

‘The quiet intimacy of Jessica Au’s novella is beautifully affecting, the unnamed narrator’s precise travelogue triggering reflections on home, childhood and relationships…It is melancholic and wistful, but Au finds grace and succour in the small act of observing people, places and art.’ – The Guardian

‘Au’s prose is elegant and measured. In descriptions of bracing clarity she evokes ‘shaking delicate impressions’ of worlds within worlds that are symbolic of the parts of ourselves we keep hidden and those we choose to lay bare. Put simply, this novel is an intricate and multi-layered work of art – a complex and profound meditation on identity, familial bonds and our inability to fully understand ourselves, those we love and the world around us.’ – Jacqui Davies, Books+Publishing

‘Cold Enough for Snow is a sensory contemplation of knowledge, performativity, and the integral role of the present in shaping one’s past. This book will resonate with solitary bonsai, daughters of mothers, and humans floating backwards through the stories of their lives.’ – ArtsHub

Format: Paperback
Pages: 112
Publication date: 01/02/2022

Staff review

Cold Enough for Snow
By Jessica Au
Review by Bel
This tiny book is a big deal. It recently won the inaugural Novel Prize, which means it published in the US, UK and Aus/NZ simultaneously. This offers Melbourne writer Jessica Au a huge audience, and the world is taking note, with great reviews in the New Yorker, the NYT, Harper's and the Guardian.
In this atmospheric novel, an unnamed protagonist seeks to understand her mother while they're on holiday together in Japan. Through their shared experiences on the trip, she tries to find points of connection, and we get the sense her mother is keen to do the same, but there's a fumbling disconnect to their interactions that keeps getting in the way. There's a subtle, aching poignance to what lies beneath these understated moments. There's also philosophical musings on art, on yearning for a place in the world, and on the search for truth in both the past and the present.

The deceptively simple plot leaves space for the reader to think and infer meaning. Au grants us the intelligence to draw our own conclusions and fill in the blanks, which is so rare and enticing. We pay attention. We listen carefully and read hungrily for cues in the characters' stilted but tender conversations.
For me, this is as close as reading gets to meditation. There's a fluid clarity in Au's prose, in her protagonist's meticulous observation of the world and careful study of her mother. Layers of meaning and misunderstanding refract through this novel like light through a prism. It's sophisticated and profound.
I loved it and will read it again. Great for fans of Rachel Cusk, Jhumpa Lahiri and Siri Hustvedt.

ISBN: 9781925818925 Category: