Cold Enough for Snow is defined by its small scale, driven by the details of life in its absolute present moment. Au’s flashbacks are more concerned with the patterns on bowls, the texture of fabrics, or the light through a “canopy of leaves,” than the sequence of events. Her language comes from a different logic of attention: One that skims along the textures of life, floating from one association to another; she finds connections not in historical causation, but in the way walking home after a swim recalls the same feeling as looking at Impressionist paintings. And if the narrator doesn’t succeed in bonding with her mother, Au succeeds in connecting to the reader with her subtle language and elegant way of looking.

Emma Heath, Cleveland Review

Jessica Au

Jessica Au is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. Her novel Cold Enough for Snow won the inaugural Novel Prize from New Directions, Fitzcarraldo in the UK, and Giramondo in Australia.

cover image of the book Cold Enough For Snow

Cold Enough For Snow

Winner of the inaugural Novel Prize, Cold Enough for Snow, is an elegant and subtle exploration of the mysteries of our relationships to others. A mother and daughter travel from abroad to 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 contemporary 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? And what is the real reason for 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.

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Cold Enough for Snow is defined by its small scale, driven by the details of life in its absolute present moment. Au’s flashbacks are more concerned with the patterns on bowls, the texture of fabrics, or the light through a “canopy of leaves,” than the sequence of events. Her language comes from a different logic of attention: One that skims along the textures of life, floating from one association to another; she finds connections not in historical causation, but in the way walking home after a swim recalls the same feeling as looking at Impressionist paintings. And if the narrator doesn’t succeed in bonding with her mother, Au succeeds in connecting to the reader with her subtle language and elegant way of looking.

Emma Heath, Cleveland Review

A powerful novel about the relationship between a mother and daughter, and the ways that geography, language, art, travel and migration can change the ways we see ourselves….a hazy, dream-like mirage, in which characters, emotions and intentions are ever-so-slightly out of reach.

Frieze

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.

Kirkus (starred review)

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
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