Fashioning the self

Reinvention as fact and metaphor
by
October 2021, no. 436
Buy this book

Bodies of Light by Jennifer Down

Text Publishing, $32.99 pb, 433 pp

Fashioning the self

Reinvention as fact and metaphor
by
October 2021, no. 436
Jennifer Down (photograph by Leah Jing McIntosh/Scribe)
Jennifer Down (photograph by Leah Jing McIntosh/Scribe)

Australian novelist and short story writer Jennifer Down has been rightly acclaimed, with an impressive list of awards to her name, including the Jolley Prize in 2014. Her new novel, Bodies of Light, is both much more ambitious in scope than her first and an altogether more harrowing read. Spanning the years from 1975 to 2018, and traversing many different locations in Australia, New Zealand, and America, the novel confronts us with child sexual abuse, a suicide attempt, a series of fractured relationships, allegations of infanticide, recurring social alienation, and a serious drug addiction. But it is also, and mercifully, a story of a woman’s remarkable resilience, the possibility of human kindness, and the necessity of hope. Bodies of Light thus has affinities with the feminist Bildungsroman popularised in the 1960s and 1970s; a genre that championed a belief in productive self-fashioning by women in the face of systemic misogynistic oppression.

Susan Midalia reviews 'Bodies of Light' by Jennifer Down

Bodies of Light

by Jennifer Down

Text Publishing, $32.99 pb, 433 pp

Buy this book

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