Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au


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 cafés 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 ‘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