Avalanche

By Julia Leigh Penguin Random House

At the age of 38 acclaimed novelist Julia Leigh made her first visit to the IVF clinic, full of hope. So started a long and costly undertaking of nightly injections, blood tests, surgeries and rituals.

Writing in the immediate aftermath of her decision to stop treatment, Leigh lays bare the truths of her experience: the highs of hope and the depths of disappointment; the grip of yearning and desire; the toll on her relationships; the unexpected graces and moments of black humour. Along the way she navigates the science of IVF; copes with the impact of treatment; and reconciles the seductive promises of the worldwide multi-billion-dollar IVF industry with reality.

Avalanche is the book that’s finally been written on IVF treatment: a courageous, compelling and ultimately wise account of a profoundly important and widespread experience. At the heart of this work is an exploration of who and how we love. It’s a story we can all relate to – about the dreams we have, defeated or otherwise, for ourselves, our loves and relationships.


Julia Leigh

Julia Leigh is the author of two internationally acclaimed and widely translated novels, The Hunter (1999) and Disquiet (2008). Her film Sleeping Beauty was nominated for the Palme D’Or at the Festival de Cannes 2011. She lives in Sydney, Australia.

Judges' report


In her first work of nonfiction, novelist and filmmaker Julia Leigh tells the story of what would become a gruelling series of IVF attempts in her late thirties: “I did this knowing that no matter how hard I hoped, no matter what I tried, chances were I’d never have a child”. The attempt to become a mother outlasts her marriage and governs a great deal of her life. Subtitled “A Love Story”, Avalanche is as much about the desire to be a mother and maternal love as it is a clear-eyed account of a love affair gone wrong and an investigation of a medical industry that trades on hope. Leigh is just as scrupulous about holding her own feelings and choices up to the light as she is in raising questions about the gulf between the promises and hard data of the for-profit IVF industry. In writing one of the first literary treatments of IVF, Leigh creates a lyrical, clear-eyed account that cuts through to the core of an emotionally complex, sometimes obscured subject that is of great significance today.