Scary Monsters by Michelle de Kretser
A profoundly original exploration of racism, misogyny, and ageism—three monsters that plague the world—this novel from a beloved and prize-winning author is made up of two narratives, each told by a South Asian migrant to Australia.
On sale April 12, 2022 • ISBN: 9781646221097
An affecting, suspenseful, and often witty novel, Scary Monsters is presented in two parts, which can be read in either order. The narrator of "Lili" is a young Australian woman whose family emigrated from Asia when she was a teenager. Having earned an honors degree in French, she is teaching in Montpellier in the early 1980s. As she makes friends and strives to be "A Bold Intelligent Woman," Lili is also worrying about her creepy neighbor and observing the treatment meted out to North African immigrants.
"Lyle" is set in the near future in a radically right-wing Australia. The narrator works in a sinister government department, where he maintains a low profile and lives in fear of repatriation. At home, he is preoccupied by his ambitious wife, his wayward children, and his flamboyant elderly mother. Islam has been banned in the country, the air is smoke-filled due to a Permanent Fire Zone, and one pandemic has already run its course. Is there a monstrous link between Lili and Lyle's stories?
The reversible format of the novel conveys the discontinuity that migrants experience. As Lily notes, "When my family emigrated it felt as if we'd been stood on our heads." Lyle shares her sentiment, observing that, "The past was no longer a guide to the future," and asking, "Which comes first, the future or the past?"
MICHELLE DE KRETSER was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Her family emigrated to Australia when she was a teenager, and she was educated in Melbourne and Paris. She is the author of five previous novels, including the Miles Franklin Award winners Questions of Travel and The Life to Come, the Man Booker Prize long-listed The Lost Dog, and a novella, Springtime. De Kretser now lives in Sydney with her partner, the poet and translator Chris Andrews. She is an honorary associate of the English department at the University of Sydney.