Hachette, $29.99 pb, 282 pp, 9780733635946
Closing Down is about survival and the rituals that allow it; those that keep the fraying edges of life and society together, that stop a relationship disintegrating, that stave off insanity. In her début novel – which won the inaugural Richell Prize for Emerging Writers – Susan Abbott asks: how do you survive when your world is breaking into pieces?
Abbott’s narrative alternates between Clare and Robbie. Through them, we glimpse a world crippled by climate change and economic crisis, where recurring disasters become nothing more than a ‘few words flickering quickly by on a screen’. Both characters have rituals for survival. For Clare, walking and recording the dusty lineaments of the decaying town of Myamba keep her alive, despite the ‘unutterable sadness of it all’. Robbie’s love for his partner, Ella, sustains him, but, increasingly, ignoring a world that has ‘become far too much to bear’ is the only way to cope.