Scary Monsters (Hardback)
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Scary Monsters (Hardback)

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Hardback 320 Pages
Published: 06/01/2022
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Waterstones Says

Moving between the 1980s and an apocalyptic Australian future, de Kretser’s incandescent novel explores the immigrant experience with an electrifying honesty, pain and compassion.

When my family emigrated it felt as if we'd been stood on our heads.

Michelle de Kretser's electrifying take on scary monsters turns the novel upside down - just as migration has upended her characters' lives.

Lyle works for a sinister government department in near-future Australia. An Asian migrant, he fears repatriation and embraces 'Australian values'. He's also preoccupied by his ambitious wife, his wayward children and his strong-minded elderly mother. Islam has been banned in the country, the air is smoky from a Permanent Fire Zone, and one pandemic has already run its course.

Lili's family migrated to Australia from Asia when she was a teenager. Now, in the 1980s, she's teaching in the south of France. She makes friends, observes the treatment handed out to North African immigrants and is creeped out by her downstairs neighbour. All the while, Lili is striving to be A Bold, Intelligent Woman like Simone de Beauvoir.

Three scary monsters - racism, misogyny and ageism - roam through this mesmerising novel. Its reversible format enacts the disorientation that migrants experience when changing countries changes the story of their lives. With this suspenseful, funny and profound book, Michelle de Kretser has made something thrilling and new.

'Which comes first, the future or the past?'

Publisher: Atlantic Books
ISBN: 9781838953959
Number of pages: 320
Weight: 429 g
Dimensions: 216 x 135 x 22 mm
Edition: Main


MEDIA REVIEWS

Slyly intelligent...the book's overriding sense of anger and alarm also mingles with satirical glee. Even if she obviously has the apocalyptic drift of the present in sight, De Kretser passes on to the reader the inescapable feeling that she's also having fun, in this engaging amalgam of lament and warning shot. - The Observer

Every page of her story feels charged, like an open circuit waiting for its switch; a lurking wallop. It's magnificent, peerless writing. - Guardian Australia

A carefully constructed pattern of thematic echoes...filled with unexpected details, apt quick literary brushstrokes and the gleam of humour. For what it's worth, I'd call it two novellas: but either way, it's terrific. - Sam Leith, Telegraph

Scary Monsters is a provocative and exhilarating game of snakes and ladders - Times Literary Supplement

Engrossing...a powerful portrait of feeling adrift in a hostile environment, suffused with stabs of beautiful description - The Times

truly great...brilliant - Ali Smith, The Guardian

Ruminative and sly rather than preachy, this novel about complacency and compromise packs a stealthy bite - Laura Miller, Slate, 10 Best Books of 2022

Written with incandescent moral energy, profound compassion, and astonishing precision and beauty, Michelle de Kretser's Scary Monsters extends the very possibilities of the novel form. On the contemporary international scene, there are very, very few writers who can match her style, her intelligence, her vision. To read her is to be changed. - Neel Mukherjee

In Scary Monsters de Kretser addresses the weightiest of subjects with the lightest and deftest of touches, and the result is funny, playful, painful, angry and, above all, ferociously smart. It's a dazzling novel, by a hugely talented author. - Sarah Waters

A radically brilliant diptych-novel, in complex conversation with itself and with the world we live in, written by one of the living masters of the art of fiction. A beautifully troubling book. - Max Porter

I love the way Scary Monsters asks urgent questions about what kind of future we might be sleepwalking towards. And heightens the enquiry by looking back; by unsettling and disturbing our sense of where we are now and where we are headed by dissecting - with exquisite deftness - the barely-concealed misogyny and racism of then, to awaken our senses to now. It's a novel of luminous intelligence and profound depth, written with verve, humour and exceptional elegance. - Monica Ali

Bold, spare and completely original, one of the most exciting contemporary novels I've read for a very long time. - Preti Taneja

I read Scary Monsters months ago and can't stop thinking about it. This is a bold, unsettling and beautifully written book. - Emily St. John Mandel

De Kretser is a wonderful writer...Though her skewering satire is pointed and painful, her gallows humor keeps the reader smiling. - Claire Messud, Harper's

Scary Monsters is a marvel. Each of the two very different parts of the novel had me totally riveted, intensely absorbed, wowed by de Kretser's scathing accuracy - whether she's chronicling youth's delights and distortions or a future where prosperity is the new "unethics." It's a wildly remarkable book that unfolds like no other. - Joan Silber, author of SECRETS OF HAPPINESS and IMPROVEMENT

[A]n inventive, satirical and confronting exploration of the migrant experience. - Books + Publishing

Is it possible we already have the year's best novel? I'll be amazed if anything surpasses this compulsive, exquisitely light-footed narrative...glorious. - Daily Mail on THE LIFE TO COME

De Kretser's satirical observations - on the literati, self-congratulation, suburban pretension - are so subtly deboning they remind me of Jane Austen's...The Life to Come deserves all the gongs we can bang for it. - Spectator on THE LIFE TO COME

Exhilaratingly good writing...each page yields sparkling sentences and keen observations. - Literary Review on THE LIFE TO COME

[de Kretser's] writing captures, with unflagging wit, grace and subtlety, the spiritual as well as physical journeys of people on the move - between cultures, mindsets and stages of growth. - Boyd Tonkin, Financial Times on THE LIFE TO COME

De Kretser clearly relishes demonstrating how close we are to this dystopian future where "government hatespokespersons" dominate the media and a "climate no-policy" has already wreaked havoc. What lingers in the mind, however, are the connections she makes between past prejudices and a future society devoid of values or compassion. - Financial Times

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“Interesting, but not gripping”

This was an interesting enough book, but I couldn't really see the point in having the two different parts, I felt it could just as easily been two separate novellas. To me, Lilli's story didn't feel... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 12

“powerful and thought-provoking.”

Scary Monsters is the sixth novel by award-winning Australian author, Michelle de Kretser. In the early nineteen-eighties, Lili is teaching in Montpellier, mixing with British and German ex-pats, occupying the attic... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 12

“Challenging and unnerving”

A challenging and unnerving read. Structured as two novellas, one deals with the present through Lili’s story, and the other with the near future; Lyle’s story.
Both are masterfully written and deal with ‘scary... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 9

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