A multi-award winner, Michelle de Kretser has just published her fifth novel, The Life to Come. Born in Sri Lanka, she emigrated to Australia at the age of 14; educated in Melbourne and Paris, she now lives mostly in Sydney. When she wasn’t writing travel guides, she produced her earlier novels: The Rose Grower, The Hamilton Case, The Lost Dog, and Questions of Travel for which she won the Miles Franklin Award in 2013. Published last month, her new novel The Life to Come, set in Sydney, Paris and Sri Lanka, has five over-lapping stories which, while being character-driven, reflect a particular concern with history and place. Her characters tend to be educated and literate people, indeed one of the women is doing a thesis on Shirley Hazzard, a writer of particular interest to de Kretser, which is to the credit of both the character and her author. The characters deliver her rather sharp observational barbs, but the overall tone reflects her qualified optimism.
De Kretser has attracted the admiration of a number of well established writers. Hilary Mantel: ‘I so much admire Michelle de Kretser’s formidable technique – her characters feel alive, and she can create a sweeping narrative which encompasses years, yet still retain the sharp, almost hallucinatory detail’; and AS Byatt: ‘(She) knows how to construct a gripping story. She writes quickly and lightly of wonderful and terrible things… A master storyteller.’
She is a writer of unsentimental humanity.