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Cold Enough for Snow
Cover of Cold Enough for Snow
Cold Enough for Snow
Borrow Borrow

Winner of the inaugural Novel Prize, an elegant and subtle exploration of the mysteries of our relationships to others

A mother and daughter travel from abroad to meet in Tokyo: they walk along the canals through the autumn evenings, escape the typhoon rains, share meals in small cafes and restaurants, and visit galleries to see some of the city's most radical modern art. All the while, they talk: about the weather, horoscopes, clothes, and objects, about family, distance, and memory. But uncertainties abound. Who is really speaking here—is it only the daughter? And what is the real reason behind this elliptical, perhaps even spectral journey? At once a careful reckoning and an elegy, Cold Enough for Snow questions whether any of us speak a common language, which dimensions can contain love, and what claim we have to truly know another's inner world.

Selected from more than 1,500 entries, Cold Enough for Snow won the Novel Prize, a new, biennial award offered by New Directions, Fitzcarraldo Editions (UK), and Giramondo (Australia), for any novel written in English that explores and expands the possibilities of the form.

Winner of the inaugural Novel Prize, an elegant and subtle exploration of the mysteries of our relationships to others

A mother and daughter travel from abroad to meet in Tokyo: they walk along the canals through the autumn evenings, escape the typhoon rains, share meals in small cafes and restaurants, and visit galleries to see some of the city's most radical modern art. All the while, they talk: about the weather, horoscopes, clothes, and objects, about family, distance, and memory. But uncertainties abound. Who is really speaking here—is it only the daughter? And what is the real reason behind this elliptical, perhaps even spectral journey? At once a careful reckoning and an elegy, Cold Enough for Snow questions whether any of us speak a common language, which dimensions can contain love, and what claim we have to truly know another's inner world.

Selected from more than 1,500 entries, Cold Enough for Snow won the Novel Prize, a new, biennial award offered by New Directions, Fitzcarraldo Editions (UK), and Giramondo (Australia), for any novel written in English that explores and expands the possibilities of the form.

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About the Author-
  • Jessica Au is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. Cold Enough for Snow will be published by New Directions, Fitzcarraldo Editions, and Giramondo, and is already set to be translated into twelve languages.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 6, 2021
    Chinese Australian writer Au’s hypnotic debut follows a Chinese mother and daughter during a vacation in Japan. The pair meets in Tokyo and carries on simple conversations as they visit museums, stroll in parks, shop for souvenirs, and have meals during the seasonal typhoon rains. The daughter narrates, examining her mother and their relationship as she observes both her mother’s behavior and the way that she has aged since they last saw each other. Yet despite the simplistic nature of the story, its meandering nature invites the reader to wonder what has really brought these two women together—and whether the mother is there at all. The narrator remembers stories the mother told her as a child about the mother’s childhood in Hong Kong, such as about the narrator’s reclusive older brother and lost love from his youth—only the mother now claims the details are all wrong. Some readers will find their patience tried by the vague Tokyo episodes, but Au exquisitely conjures the family’s nebulous past, and is at her best when folding in the perspectives of other family members. Once this probing and surprising text catches hold, it leaves the reader with lingering questions.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from December 15, 2021
    In Australian author Au's deceptively simple second novel, a mother and daughter meet in Japan to spend time traveling together. On a rainy October day in Tokyo, a woman gently shepherds her undemanding mother toward a museum. Their trip unfolds, interspersed with memories from the narrator's life, past conversations, and musings about her mother, who grew up in Hong Kong and immigrated to another country before her children were born. The two are kind with each other, almost formal, but not close. A muted sense of frustrated hope hangs over their interactions, a thorny knot of longing and despair. Toward the end, in a rare moment of intimacy inside a church they are visiting as tourists, the daughter asks about her mother's beliefs: "She said that she believed that we were all essentially nothing, just series of sensations and desires, none of it lasting...there was no control, and understanding would not lessen any pain. The best we could do in this life was to pass through it, like smoke through the branches, suffering, until we either reached a state of nothingness, or else suffered elsewhere." To this the daughter makes no reply. "I looked at my watch and said that visiting hours were almost over, and that we should probably go." The trip does not succeed the way the narrator hoped. And yet: "It occurred to me that by the age I was now, my mother had already made a new life for herself in a new country...I tried, and failed, to imagine her first months there. Had she been homesick? Had she been awed by the streets, the brick and weatherboard houses, so different to her own home? Had she been worn out not by the big changes, but, as is often the case, by countless smaller ones--the supermarkets that were so well stocked, but where you could not buy glass noodles, or the right kind of rice?" Early on, in a phone conversation, the narrator's sister says that her young daughter wants to wear the same dress every day. All the sister can do is "to make her something warm for dinner, to look on her in flawed understanding, and console in all the insufficient ways." Flawed understanding, consolation, and insufficiency all infuse this compelling, unsettling novel reminiscent of Jhumpa Lahiri's Whereabouts or Rachel Cusk's Outline Trilogy. A beautifully observed book, written in precise, elegant prose that contains a wealth of deep feeling.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • The Australian Au's writing ebbs along effortlessly and poetically.
  • Romy Ash;Australian Book Review Jessica Au is a new talent to be watched.
  • Edouard Louis 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.
  • Kirkus (starred review) Flawed understanding, consolation, and insufficiency all infuse this compelling, unsettling novel reminiscent of Jhumpa Lahiri's Whereabouts or Rachel Cusk's Outline Trilogy. A beautifully observed book, written in precise, elegant prose that contains a wealth of deep feeling.
  • Hillary Kelly;Vulture On a trip to Japan, a mother and daughter circle each other quietly. There is no tension, no snap, but every exchange — about souvenirs and restaurant menus and their childhood memories — is laden with pressure, a potential missed opportunity for bonding...Cold Enough for Snow observes the invisible thread between parent and child as it twists and knots and occasionally goes slack.
  • Claire Messud;Harper's Au's is a book of deceptive simplicity, weaving profound questions of identity and ontology into the fabric of quotidian banality...What matters, the novel reassures us, is constantly imbricated with the everyday, just as alienation and tender care can coexist in the same moment.
  • Shane Anderson;032c Quiet and crisp like a clear winter morning...a world of melancholy and dissolving identity.
  • Tobias Grey;The New York Times Jessica Au's slim, spectral novel Cold Enough for Snow...deftly uses stream of consciousness to explore the legacy of inherited family traits and the difficulty of breaking away.
  • Peter C. Baker;The New Yorker Au's novel is perhaps most masterly in the way it evokes our dissociation from desire—our own and other people's...we can sense it in the soft, patient warmth of Au's prose, which sometimes feels attuned to truths just out of the narrator's reach.
  • Declan Fry;The Sydney Morning Herald One of the novella's neat turns lies in how precisely and matter-of-factly it narrates events that are – as we come to realize – anything but. Au is fascinated by the question of knowledge, especially the knowledge shared – or not – between two people.
  • Imogen Dewey;The Guardian Au's calm, unrelenting focus would be hard to take over a longer book – but this novella is graceful and precise. Like the narrator fine-tuning the aperture on her Nikon camera, Au seems to say, we have to choose our scale, what we pay attention to.
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