Recent years have seen the literary novel begin to mutate, its boundaries and subject matter evolving in new and sometimes surprising directions as it attempts to accommodate the increasing weirdness of the world we inhabit.
In her own, sometimes subterranean way, Jennifer Mills has been one of the architects of this process in Australian writing. Having begun her career with the beautifully constructed but relatively conventional The Diamond Anchor (2009), her work has rapidly grown spikier and less easy to categorise, gathering in elements of the surreal and the science fictional as its ambition has increased.
The early stages of this transformation were visible in Mills’s justly lauded 2013 collection of stories, The Rest Is Weight, as well as in more recent short fiction published in the late, lamented Review of Australian Fiction and elsewhere. Mills’s new novel, Dyschronia, sees her leave behind the niceties of literary realism altogether, venturing instead into the unsettled – and unsettling – hinterland of the fantastic.